Disabled woman works from home in wheelchair

Employment for Women With Disabilities Is Soaring

Labor force participation dropped sharply at the start of the pandemic, and has still only partially recovered. Most population groups have seen substantial declines in employment and labor force participation. But there are a few notable exceptions, some of which are highlighted in the annual “Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics” report published today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Here are three takeaways from today’s release:

1. Labor force participation for people with a disability fully recovered even before the end of 2020

At 22.8%, labor force participation among people with disabilities is now nearly 2 percentage points higher than it was in February 2020, which is remarkable considering that the labor force participation rate for people with no disability is still 1.8 percentage points below the February 2020 rate.

2. Increased remote work opportunities have opened doors for workers with disabilities 

People with disabilities faced the same struggles as the rest of the workforce during the pandemic, with one exception: the shift to remote work made employment opportunities vastly more accessible to them, even as overall employment declined. A massive number of jobs became virtual within days, and a large spike in the share of job postings allowing remote work changed the landscape for homebound job seekers with disabilities and chronic health conditions. 

3. Women have been particularly responsive to the expansion in remote work opportunities

The surge in labor force participation among workers with disabilities is being fueled by women. Compared to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, the labor force participation rate for men with a disability is 1.2% lower, whereas it is now 6.2% higher for women. Across gender and disability status, women with a disability are the only segment that has surged ahead of pre-pandemic employment trends, let alone fully recovered.

Written by

Sinem Buber is an economist at ZipRecruiter with a focus on US labor market insights and trends. Previously, she worked at ADP Research Institute where she published the ADP National Employment Report. She holds a PhD in Economics from The Graduate Center, CUNY.

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