Labour force participation

More than 1 million working-age people with disability are working or looking for work (are in the labour force) (AIHW 2017). This has decreased in the last decade—by 3% between 2003 and 2015 for those with disability, and by 13% for those with severe or profound disability.

People with disability have a lower labour force participation rate than people without disability. More than half (53%) of working-age people with disability are in the labour force, compared with 83% without disability. This is particularly so for those with severe or profound disability (25% compared with 63% with other disability).

Generally, males are more likely to be in the labour force than females (Figure 1). This is true for people with and without disability:

  • 58% of working-age males with disability, compared with 49%
  • 89% of working-age males without disability, compared with 78%.

For those with severe or profound disability, there was no significant difference in workforce participation by sex.

Where can I find out more?

Detailed data tables are available at Data.

For information on the ABS SDAC—ABS SDAC.


ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2016. Microdata: disability, ageing and carers, Australia, 2015. ABS cat. no. 4430.0.30.002. Canberra: ABS. AIHW analysis of TableBuilder.

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2017. Australia’s welfare 2017. Australia’s welfare series no. 13. AUS 214. Canberra: AIHW.

Alternative text for Labour force participation

Figure 1

Stacked column chart showing labour force participation for working-age people with and without disability. The reader can select to display the chart by sex, by age group, including 15-24, 25-64 years and all ages, and by disability status. The chart shows people with disability aged 25-64 years are less likely (54%) to participate in the labour force than those without disability (87%). Back to figure 1