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Chartbook on Mental Health and Disability

Section 2: Characteristics of disability in adult life

2.5. Has labor force participation by people with mental illness changed over time?

Between 1983 and 1994, labor force participation rates for people ages 18-64 with mental illness increased by 18% from 22.4% to 27.2%. However, during that time, the prevalence of mental illness doubled from 758,000 to more than 1.4 million people.

In that same 12 year period, labor force participation of people with mental illness lagged consistently behind participation of people with any disability (which ranged from 48.6% in 1983 to 51.8% in 1994) and far behind participation of people with no disability (79.1% in 1983 to 83.0% in 1994).

The study also found that labor force participation rates were consistently lower for people who had both mental illness and another condition, compared to people with mental illness only.

Labor force participation of people with mental illness has been consistently lower than that of others.

Figure 11 (see data table for text-only version)

Figure 11: Labor force participation rates for people with mental illness, with any disability, and with no disability, from NHIS 1983-1994

Source: Trupin, Sebesta, Yelin, & LaPlante (1997)

Surveys: NHIS, 1983-94

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