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

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7.9 million people of working age (16-64) reported that they had a disability in July-September 2019, which is 19% of the working age population.


Of these, an estimated 4.2 million were in employment, an increase of 354,000 from a year previously.

53.2% of people with disabilities were in employment, up from 51.2% a year previously. The employment rate for people without disabilities was 81.8%, up from 81.4%.


300,000 people with disabilities were unemployed. This was 86,000 fewer than the number who were unemployed a year previously.

The unemployment rate for people with a disability was 6.7% in July-September 2019. This compared to an unemployment rate of 3.7% for people without disabilities.

Economically Inactive

3.4 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 43.0%, the corresponding figure for those without disabilities was 15.0%.

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 28.6 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities. This difference is often referred to as the disability employment gap.

  • Commons Research Briefing CBP-7540
  • Author: Andy Powell
  • Topics: Work & Incomes

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