Employment of people with disabilities surges to a record high amid remote work policies

Employment among disabled people in the US rose to 21.3% in 2022

Beka Anardi was paralysed in 2009 while giving birth. As millions of people began working remotely, she resumed her career as a recruiter. Bloomberg
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The embrace of remote work spurred by the pandemic helped the US employment rate for people with disabilities to reach an all-time high last year.

The percentage of disabled people who were employed rose to 21.3 per cent in 2022, according to data released Thursday by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics. That’s more than a two percentage point increase from 2021 and the most since 2008, when comparable data was first published.

The unemployment rate for disabled people dropped last year along with the national average. And while the labour force participation rate did tick up for those without disabilities, it went up by three times as much for people with disabilities.

Daily tasks such as commuting and navigating an office space can be difficult for people depending on their disabilities. As companies adopted remote and hybrid work arrangements, more disabled people applied for and landed jobs — sometimes for the first time in years.

The recent push by companies urging workers to return to the office may threaten the gains made by disabled people, who comprise about 12 per cent of the population, according to the bureau. A report by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company published last June estimated that 35 per cent of companies offered a fully remote option.

Overall, disabled people are still less likely to be employed than their counterparts who don’t have disabilities, and they are twice as likely to be employed part-time, the BLS report said. They’re also more likely to be self-employed.

Updated: March 01, 2023, 12:05 PM