Employment is linked not only to income and economic security, but also to other aspects of a person’s wellbeing. Barriers to finding or keeping employment can, for example, affect a person’s standard of living as well as have broader impacts on their family and the wider community.

What is meant by economic security?

Economic security is having a stable income or other resources to support a standard of living and cover essential needs, both now and in the immediate future.

Over 1 million working-age (aged 15–64) people with disability participate in the labour force through work or looking for work. But some people with disability face challenges seeking and engaging in employment. This is reflected in the lower rates of labour force participation and employment, higher rates of unemployment and longer duration of unemployment than those without disability.

Table EMPLOYMENT.1: Selected measures of employment, by disability status

Selected measures of employment

Working-age people with disability(a)

Working-age people without disability(a)

Labour force participation rate



Employment rate



    Employed full time(b)



    Employed part time(b)






Unemployment rate



    Unemployed for at least 1 year(c)



(a)  Aged 15–64, living in households (2018).

(b)  Percentage of employed people.

(c)  Percentage of unemployed people who have been unemployed for 52 weeks or more.

What do measures of employment mean?

Labour force participation rate

The labour force participation rate is the number of employed and unemployed working-age people as a percentage of the working-age population.

Employment rate

The employment rate (employment-to-population ratio) is the number of employed working‑age people as a percentage of the working-age population.

Unemployment rate

The unemployment rate is the number of working-age people who are unemployed and looking for work (who are available to start work) as a percentage of the working-age population participating in the labour force.


A person is considered underemployed if they are employed, usually work 34 hours or less per week, would like a job with more hours, and are available to start work with more hours if offered a job in the next 4 weeks.

Most employed (88%) and unemployed (82%) working-age people with disability do not require additional support from their employer to work. Similarly, 82% of employed working‑age people with disability do not need at least 1 day per week off work because of their condition(s).

How difficult is it to find work?

Most (93%) working-age people with disability who are unemployed report at least 1 difficulty finding work, compared with 83% without disability. For unemployed people with disability, the most common reason is their ill health or disability (45%). This is followed by lacked necessary skills or education (34%), considered too old by employers (27%), too many applicants for available jobs (27%), and insufficient work experience (25%) (2018).

For more information, including breakdowns by sex and age, and lists of data sources, see the full web report.