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More workers with a disability have joined the labor force

A positive side effect of wider adoption of remote work?

The labor market has experienced both large and small shocks over the past three years. But in many ways, the employment situation has returned to pre-2020 conditions. Today we discuss one way it has not.

The FRED graph above shows the proportion in the overall labor force of men with a disability (in green) and women with a disability (in purple). At the time of this writing, these BLS data are available between the third quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2023. We see a clear, marked increase in the proportion of both men and women with a disability in the labor force after the first quarter of 2021.

Our post connects to a recent post from the US Department of Labor: Authors Joelle Gamble and Megan Dunn-Paul highlight increases in (i) flexibility in work schedules and (ii) opportunities to work remotely as potential explanations for the remarkable change in labor market trends for workers with a disability. You can find the data they used here.

Will this trend persist, increase, reverse? We don’t know that, but we do know FRED will keep updating the data. Check back in July to mark the 33rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law.

How this graph was created: Search FRED for and select “Civilian Labor Force – With a Disability, 16 to 64 Years, Women.” From the “Edit Graph” panel, use the “Edit Line 1” tab to customize the data by searching for and selecting “Civilian Labor Force Level – Women.” Next, create a custom formula to combine the series by typing in a/b*100 and clicking “Apply.” Last, click on “Add Line” and repeat the same steps for men in the civilian labor force.

Suggested by Diego Mendez-Carbajo

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