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Chartbook on Work and Disability

Section 2: Work Disability and the Labor Force

2.6. Does labor force participation of people with a work disability differ by age?

Percentages of people with a work disability in the labor force generally decrease with age. Among people in the 16 to 24-year-old group with a work disability, 37.5% are in the labor force (513,000 people). The rate rises slightly for those aged 25 to 34 years, to 38.8% (827,000 people). As people with work disabilities grow older, their rate of labor force participation turns downward. In the group 35 to 44 years of age, 35.6% (1.4 million) are in the labor force. At 45 to 54 years of age, 33% (1.5 million) are participating in the labor force; and for those 55 to 64 years, the labor force participation rate drops precipitously to 18.6% (955,000).

People with no work disability have much higher labor force participation rates, and much less decrease in labor force participation with age. In the 16 to 24-year-old group, 65.4% are in the labor force (20.7 million). The rate climbs to 87.6% for people who are 25 to 34 years old (32.3 million); reaches 89.3% for people 35 to 44 years old (35.9 million); and peaks at 90.3% for people 45 to 54 years old (26.7 million). Finally, the rate declines to 72.1% for those in the 55 to 64-year-old age group (12.3 million).

As age increases, fewer people with work disabilities participate in the labor force, relative to their non-work disabled counterparts.

Bar graph showing labor force participation rate versus age.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Table 298.

Surveys: CPS, 1998.

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