Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

More Workers With Disabilities Found Jobs in 2022

Low unemployment, growing acceptance of remote work fuel hiring

spinner image Businesswoman in wheelchair leading group discussion in office
MoMo Productions/Getty Images

The tight labor market appears to be opening doors for workers with disabilities, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

More than 3 percent of people with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 were employed in 2022, the BLS says. That is the highest rate since the U.S. began tracking this statistic in 2007, and is up from 31 percent pre-pandemic.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership

Join AARP for $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal. Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine

Join Now

Current hiring demand among employers has meant that businesses are more willing to consider a more diverse group of candidates. This, combined with the rise of flexible job arrangements during the pandemic, is why some people are finding job opportunities that may not have been accessible to them before.

“This welcome development represents a greater opportunity for individuals who typically have faced employment and retention barriers. Improving job access for people with disabilities remains an important and incomplete task,” says a report from the Economic Innovation Group.

Unemployment rate dropped for workers with disabilities in 2022

Numbers are in thousands, except for participation rate and unemployment rate.

spinner image table showing that since 2021, the unemployment rate for disabled workers has decreased

Workers with disabilities tend to be older

According to the BLS data, there were more than 32.6 million people with disabilities in the United States overall in 2022. Nearly half of that total — 16 million people — were 65 and older. Among those ages 55 to 64, more than 6.2 million people had disabilities. In the 45 to 54 age group, there were more than 3.3 million people with disabilities. There were only 6.7 million people with disabilities in the 16 to 44 age group.

Because many workers with disabilities are also older adults, they can encounter discrimination based on both age and ability in the workplace. Federal law prohibits both types of discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities. But bias still can prevent job seekers from getting hired. One pre-pandemic study found that when workers with disabilities disclosed their conditions on job applications, they were 26 percent less likely to hear back from employers.

The BLS data confirms that while workers with disabilities made notable progress last year, they continue to experience significant disparities in the job market:

Among workers of all ages, people with disabilities were less likely to be employed than those without disabilities.

Work & Jobs

AARP Job Board

Search job opportunities for experienced workers

See more Work & Jobs offers >

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities was nearly twice as high as the rate for those without. The overall 2022 unemployment rate for those with disabilities was 7.6 percent, while the rate for those without disabilities was 3.5 percent. 

In 2022, 30 percent of workers with a disability were employed part-time, compared with 16 percent for those without disabilities.

People with disabilities were more likely to be self-employed.

While these gaps are significant, recent data suggests there may be some cause for optimism about improving employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

“The share of … disabled individuals with a job is now the highest since at least the Great Recession, marking important progress,” the Economic Innovation Group report says. “A strong labor market is one important factor and the growth of remote work is another. Both factors bode well for increasing employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in the long run.”

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?