Percentage of Disabled People Employed in 2022 Highest on Record

Published on Feb 28, 2023

Updated on Nov 10, 2023

Written by Lightcast Press Office

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(Boston, MA) - More Americans with disabilities are employed –more than one in five– than at any time since the government started keeping statistics, a signal of the new opportunities arising in a historically tight job market.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the employment rate for workers with disabilities grew to 21.3% in 2022, up from 19.1% in 2021. That is the highest point since comparable data were first published in 2008. 

Lightcast economists have forecasted that the tight labor market, which is expected to continue, will open up opportunities for workers previously left out of the job market. 

 “It’s encouraging to see more employers recognizing disabled workers for the talents and skills they bring to the table,” said Lightcast Senior Economist Christopher Laney. “With no indication of if or when the tension in the labor market will ease, we need as much participation in the workforce as possible to meet our current and future labor needs.”

Key Observations:

  • Demographic changes are likely to keep workers scarce for the foreseeable future, which means the U.S. has no workers to spare.

At 3.4%, the U.S. unemployment rate hasn’t been so low since the first moon landing in 1969. In Lightcast’s report The Demographic Drought, economists found that the US faces a shortfall of 8.5 million workers in coming years, which will continue to cause businesses to desperately compete for talent.

  • Employers can use new talent attraction strategies to tap into demographics that may have previously been overlooked as part of their. 

In our research on “missing workers,” Lightcast identified 5.7 million workers who want jobs but face barriers to entering the workforce. The more these barriers can be lifted, the more workers employers can attract in a tight job market.

Some of the strategies employers can use include more flexible work arrangements, more inclusive recruitment, breaking down traditional jobs into component tasks, and letting workers grow into jobs through targeted training.

“We have no workers to waste in this labor market, which is tight today and likely to remain tight tomorrow,” said Lightcast Senior Economist Elizabeth Crofoot. "Employers have to remove the unnecessary barriers keeping people out of the workforce if they’re going to find the talent they need.”

  • One major barrier to employment seems to be falling: The rise in remote work can provide new opportunities for those with disabilities.

In Lightcast’s 2022 Talent Playbook, economists found that the percentage of remote positions has more than tripled since the beginning of 2020. With a rise in remote positions, workers experiencing challenges such as limited mobility may have opened career opportunities that weren’t previously available. 

“The ability to work from home has unlocked accessible job opportunities for workers who may have previously been sidelined. Remote positions offer new talent options for employers looking to hire,” said Lightcast Senior Economist Layla O’Kane.


Employment population ratio for those with disabilities


Lightcast provides trusted global labor market data, analytics, and expert guidance that empowers communities, corporations, and learning providers to make informed decisions and navigate the increasingly complex world of work. With a database of more than one billion job postings and career profiles, our team provides best-in-class customer service with robust data, clear analysis, and expert guidance on skills, jobs, and opportunities.

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and Moscow, Idaho, Lightcast is active in more than 30 countries and has offices in the United Kingdom, Italy, New Zealand, and India. The company is backed by global private equity leader KKR. For more, visit

Press contact: Scott Bittle