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People with disabilities in employment

Published Friday, February 15, 2019

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

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There were an estimated 3.9 million people of working age (16-64) with disabilities in employment in July-September 2018, meaning that around 120,000 more people with disabilities were in employment than a year previously.

51.3% of people with disabilities were in employment, up from 49.8% a year previously. The employment rate for people without disabilities was 81.4%.

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


393,000 people with disabilities were unemployed. These people were not in work and were actively seeking work. This was a similar level to the number who were disabled a year previously.

The unemployment rate for people with a disability was 9.3% in July-September 2018. This compared to an unemployment rate of 3.7% 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 fall of just over 100,000 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 44.4%, the corresponding figure for those without disabilities was 16.1%.

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 30.1 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities. This difference is often referred to as the disability employment gap. See section 1.2 for details.

7.5 million people reported that they had a disability in July-September 2018, which is 22% of the working age population.


Commons Briefing papers CBP-7540

Author: Andy Powell

Topics: Employment, Employment schemes

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