Unemployment

Working-age people with disability

(10%) are twice as likely as those without disability (4.6%) to be unemployed.

13%

of working-age people with severe or profound disability are unemployed.

People aged 15–24

with disability (25%) are more than twice as likely as those aged 25–64 (7.9%) to be unemployed.

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Introduction

Working-age people with disability are more likely to be unemployed than those without disability. They are also more likely to be unemployed for longer.

How is unemployment defined?

Unemployed people are those who reported in the SDAC that they were not employed during the reference week, and had actively looked for full- or part-time work at any time in the 4 weeks up to the end of the reference week and were available for work in the reference week.

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’.


Unemployment rate

Working-age (aged 15–64) people with disability are more likely to be unemployed than those without disability. The unemployment rate of working-age people with disability (10% or 113,000) is twice that of those without disability (4.6% or 544,000) (Figure UNEMPLOYMENT.1).

Working-age people with severe or profound disability (13% or 17,400) have a higher unemployment rate than those with other disability (9.9% or 94,700) (Figure UNEMPLOYMENT.1).

Unemployment rate

The unemployment rate is the sum of the working-age (aged 15–64) population who are unemployed as a percentage of the working-age population participating in the labour force.

Figure UNEMPLOYMENT.1: Unemployment rate for people in the labour force, by disability status, age group and sex, 2018

Column chart showing unemployment rate of 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 25–64 are more likely (7.9%) to be unemployed than those without disability (3.2%).

The unemployment rate for working-age people with disability has increased in recent years. While it remained relatively steady for working-age people without disability (around 5% between 2003 and 2018), it increased slightly for those with disability (8% to 10%) (ABS 2019).

Youth (aged 15–24) with disability (25% or 37,500) are more likely than those aged 25–64 (7.9% or 74,900) to be unemployed (Figure UNEMPLOYMENT.1).

Working-age males with disability (11% or 63,200) are slightly more likely than their female counterparts (9.4% or 50,400) to be unemployed (Figure UNEMPLOYMENT.1).


Duration of unemployment

Working-age people with disability are more likely to be unemployed for longer periods than those without disability—22% (or 24,100) unemployed people with disability have been unemployed for at least 1 year, compared with 14% (or 73,400) without disability (Figure UNEMPLOYMENT.2).

Figure UNEMPLOYMENT.2: Duration of unemployment for unemployed people, by disability status, 2018

Column chart showing duration of unemployment for unemployed working-age people with and without disability. The chart shows unemployed people with disability are more likely (22%) to be unemployed for at least 1 year than those without disability (14%).


Main activity since last looked for work

Around 1 in 4 (26% or 29,700) unemployed working-age people with disability report home duties, or caring for children or other person(s) as their main activity since they last looked for work (Table UNEMPLOYMENT.1). This is less common among unemployed working-age males with disability (13% or 8,500) than their female counterparts (45% or 22,900). It was less common among unemployed working-age males with disability than those without disability (22% or 57,900) (ABS 2019).

Table UNEMPLOYMENT.1: Selected main activities since last looked for work for unemployed working-age people(a), by disability status, 2018 (%)

Selected main activities since last looked for work

With disability

Without disability

Home duties, or caring for child(ren) or other person(s)(b)

26.4

33.7

Attending an educational institution

19.8

28.8

(a) Aged 15–64 living in households.

(b) Includes home duties or caring for child(ren), and caring for ill / disabled / elderly person(s).

Note: Categories not shown are: own short-term illness or injury, own long-term health condition or disability, retired or voluntarily inactive, travel, holiday or leisure activity, working in unpaid voluntary job, and other.

Source: ABS 2019; see also Table UNET5.

Unemployed working-age people with disability (20% or 22,300) are less likely than those without disability (29% or 157,000) to have attended an educational institution since they last looked for work (ABS 2019).