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People with disabilities in employment

Published Friday, May 17, 2019

This note summarises the key statistics available on disabled people in employment in the UK.

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7.6 million people of working age (16-64) reported that they had a disability in January-March 2019, which is 18% of the working age population.


Of these, an estimated 3.9 million were in employment, an increase of 150,000 from a year previously.

The Government has set a target of 4.5 million people with disabilities in employment by 2027.

51.7% of people with disabilities were in employment, up from 50.7% a year previously. The employment rate for people without disabilities was 81.7%, up from 81.1%.


340,000 people with disabilities were unemployed. This was 36,000 fewer than the number who were unemployed a year previously.

The unemployment rate for people with a disability was 8.0% in January-March 2019. This compared to an unemployment rate of 3.3% for people without disabilities.

Economically Inactive

3.3 million people with disabilities of working age were economically inactive. These people were not in work and not looking for work. This was a small increase from a year before.

People with disabilities were considerably more likely than those without disabilities to be economically inactive. While, the economic inactivity rate for those with disabilities was 43.8%, the corresponding figure for those without disabilities was 15.6%.

Disability Employment Gap

The high rate of economic inactivity, alongside a higher unemployment rate, explains why people with disabilities have a low employment rate. People with disabilities have an employment rate that is 29.9 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities. This difference is often referred to as the disability employment gap.



Commons Briefing papers CBP-7540

Author: Andy Powell

Topics: Employment, Employment schemes

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