Are disabled people’s employment rates improving?
Increasing the proportion of disabled people in employment is a longstanding aim of public policy. Indeed, the aim of the UK government is to halve the disability employment gap by 2020. It is crucial to measure progress towards meeting this aim. However, this requires reliable methods to identify disability, differences in the employment rates of disabled and non-disabled people and to track these in a consistent manner over time. Unless reliable and consistent measures can be developed it will be impossible to measure progress towards the government target accurately.
Our research shows that the main measure of the disability employment gap used by Government is fragile. The narrowing of the disability employment gap over the 2000s seen in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) is not evident when using other major government surveys. The LFS trend (in red) is downwards, while the General Household Survey (GHS) and Health Survey England (HSE) show no trend.
The Disability Employment Gap (1998-2012) by Survey.
Source: Baumberg et al., (2015)
The government’s main measure of the disability employment gap is taken from the LFS but regular changes to the questions which identify whether an individual is disabled have made it difficult to track trends in the disability employment rate over time. Further planned changes for 2019 would make tracking the Government’s aspiration of increasing the proportion of disabled people in employment almost impossible.
It is essential therefore that further discontinuities in these data are avoided or are carefully managed using dual definitions in change over years. A ‘basket’ of indicators (which uses evidence from a range of surveys and across different measures of disability) would provide a more comprehensive and reliable picture of disability and employment in the UK.
An accessible overview of some of these issues is provided at: https://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-is-the-number-of-disabled-people-in-work-on-the-up-48781
Articles within this theme:
Jones, M. (2006) Is there employment discrimination against the disabled?, Economics Letters, 92, p32-37.
Jones M and V Wass (2013) Understanding changing disability-related employment gaps in Britain 1998-2011, Work Employment and Society, 27(6), pp. 982-1003. http://orca.cf.ac.uk/40252/1/wesdisabilityfinal%20Nov%2012.pdf
Baumberg B, Jones M, and V Wass (2015) Disability and disability–related employment gaps in the UK 1998-2012: Different trends in different surveys? Social Science and Medicine, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953615300289
Jones, M. (2016) Disability and labour market outcomes, IZA World of Labour, April 2016. DOI: 10.15185/izawol.253. Available at: http://wol.iza.org/articles/disability-and-labor-market-outcomes
Baumberg B, Jones M, and V Wass (2015) Disability and disability–related employment gaps in the UK 1998-2012: Written Evidence to Select Committee http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/work-and-pensions-committee/disability-employment-gap/written/32826.html
In this section
- Are disabled people’s employment rates improving?
- Does the type of work differ for disabled people?
- Disabled people and pay disadvantage
- Does the experience of work differ for disabled people?
- All in it together? The impact of the recession on disabled people
- How can unions support disabled employees?
- How widely adopted are disability equality policies and practices?
- The influence of the management and organisation of work on disabled people