Employment rate and type

Working-age people with disability

(48%) have a lower employment rate than those without disability (80%).

41%

of employed working-age people with disability work part-time, compared with 32% of those without disability.

54%

of employed working-age females with disability work part-time, compared with 28% of their male counterparts.

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Introduction

Working-age people with disability have a lower rate of employment than those without disability. They are more likely to be working part-time.

How is employment defined?

Employed people are those who reported in the SDAC that they had worked in a job, business or farm during the reference week; or that they had a job in the reference week, but were not at work.

Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers

Data in this section are sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC). The SDAC is the most detailed and comprehensive source of disability prevalence in Australia.

The SDAC considers that a person has disability if they have at least 1 of a list of limitations, restrictions or impairments, which has lasted, or is likely to last, for at least 6 months and restricts everyday activities.

The limitations are grouped into 10 activities associated with daily living—self-care, mobility, communication, cognitive or emotional tasks, health care, reading or writing tasks, transport, household chores, property maintenance, and meal preparation. The SDAC also identifies 2 other life areas in which people may experience restriction or difficulty as a result of disability—schooling and employment.

The severity of disability is defined by if a person needs help, has difficulty, or uses aids or equipment with 3 core activities—self-care, mobility, and communication—and is grouped for mild, moderate, severe, and profound limitation. People who ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ need help with 1 or more core activities are referred to in this section as ‘people with severe or profound disability’.


Employment rate

In this section, employment rate (employment-to-population ratio) is the number of employed working-age (aged 15–64) people as a percentage of the working-age population (AIHW 2019).

The employment rate is an indication of the overall level of employment for a population and measures how much of the potential labour resource is being used. As many employment initiatives include trying to engage people not in the labour force in employment (where possible), this rate also includes those not in the labour force.

Working-age people with disability (48% or 984,000) have a lower employment rate than those without disability (80% or 11.3 million) (Table EMPLOYMENT.1 and Figure EMPLOYMENT.1). Working-age people with severe or profound disability (24% or 120,000) have a much lower employment rate than those with other disability (56% or 863,000) (ABS 2019).

Figure EMPLOYMENT.1: Employment rate of working-age people, by disability status, age group and sex, 2018

Column chart showing employment rate for working-age people with and without disability. The reader can select to display the chart by sex, by age group, and by disability status. The chart shows people with disability aged 15–24 years are less likely (40%) to be employed than those without disability (63%).

While the overall employment rate for working-age people with disability has remained relatively steady in recent years, it has decreased for those with severe or profound disability (from 27% in 2003 to 24% in 2018) (ABS 2019).

Working-age females have a lower employment rate than males (Figure EMPLOYMENT.1). This is true for those with disability (46% compared with 50%) and without disability (76% compared with 85%) (ABS 2019). This is largely related to lower workforce participation among females rather than higher unemployment (see Unemployment).


Working full- or part-time

When employed, working-age people with disability are less likely to work full-time and more likely to work part-time than those without disability (Table EMPLOYMENT.1). This is especially the case for working-age people with severe or profound disability:

  • 48% (or 57,400) of those employed work full-time, compared with 61% (or 525,000) with other disability
  • 52% (or 62,400) work part-time, compared with 40% (or 341,000) (ABS 2019).

Table EMPLOYMENT.1: Whether employed people(a) are employed full-time or part-time, by disability status, 2018 (%)

Whether employed full-time or part-time

Severe or profound disability

Other disability

With disability

Without disability

Employed full-time

47.8

60.9

59.1

68.3

Employed part-time

51.9

39.5

40.9

31.7

Total

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

(a) Aged 15–64 living in households.

Note: Figures are rounded and components may not add to total because of ABS confidentiality and perturbation processes.

Source: ABS 2019; see also Table EMPL5.

While most employed working-age people with disability work full-time, recent years have seen a shift from full-time towards part-time work. For example, between 2003 and 2018, the proportion working:

  • full-time decreased from 63% to 59%, and from 51% to 48% for those with severe or profound disability
  • part-time increased from 37% to 41%, and from 49% to 52% for those with severe or profound disability.

Employed working-age females with disability are less likely to work full-time and more likely to work part-time than their male counterparts:

  • 46% (or 223,000) worked full-time, compared with 72% (or 359,000)
  • 54% (or 263,000) worked part-time, compared with 28% (or 141,000) (ABS 2019).

Occupations

Among employed working-age people with disability, the most commonly identified occupations are:

  • professionals (23% or 222,000)
  • technicians and trades workers (15% or 150,000)
  • clerical and administrative workers (13% or 130,000)
  • labourers (12% or 121,000) (ABS 2019).

Occupations vary among groups (Figure EMPLOYMENT.2). For example, of working-age people who are employed:

  • 1 in 5 (20% or 24,400) with severe or profound disability work as labourers, compared with 1 in 9 (11% or 96,500) who have other disability and 1 in 11 (8.8% or 991,000) without disability
  • 1 in 9 (11% or 13,300) work as sales workers, compared with 1 in 11 (8.9% or 77,200) and 1 in 11 (8.8% or 988,000) (ABS 2019).

Males with disability are more likely than their female counterparts to work as a:

  • labourer—15% (or 72,800) compared with 9.9% (or 48,100)
  • technician and trades worker—25% (or 127,000) compared with 5.1% (or 24,600)
  • manager—12% (or 62,200) compared with 9.0% (or 43,600).

Females with disability are more likely than their male counterparts to work as a:

  • professional—28% (or 134,000) compared with 18% (or 87,800)
  • sales worker—12% (or 59,000) compared with 5.8% (or 28,900)
  • clerical or administrative worker—21% (or 100,000) compared with 6.3% (or 31,500)
  • community or personal service worker—15% (or 70,300) compared with 4.9% (or 24,600) (ABS 2019).

Occupations in the ABS SDAC are classified according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) 2013

Figure EMPLOYMENT.2: Occupations of employed people, by disability status, age group and sex, 2018

Column chart showing occupations of people with and without disability. The reader can select to display the chart by 8 categories of occupation, by sex, and by age group. The chart shows people with disability are more likely (12%) to be labourers than those without disability (9%).