Fast Facts

One in five employed disabled people want to work more hours

In the June 2017 quarter, disabled people were twice as likely to be either unemployed or not getting as much work as they would like, Stats NZ said.

The unemployment rate for disabled people was 11.4 per cent, more than double that of non-disabled people (4.5 percent). The ‘underutilisation rate’ for disabled people was 23.5 percent, again more than double the rate for non-disabled people (11.4%).

“Underutilisation allows us to see people who are on the fringes of the labour market, as well as people who aren’t working as much as they would like to,” labour and income statistics manager Sean Broughton said.

An underutilised person may be unemployed, underemployed (wanting more hours), an unavailable jobseeker, or an available potential jobseeker. Introducing underutilisation in the labour market has more information.

In the June 2017 quarter, the proportion of disabled people currently working and wanting more hours, regardless of availability to work, was 20.9 percent, more than double the rate for non-disabled people (10.3 percent).

Disabled people twice as likely to be underutilised

Looking at the underutilisation rate in combination with the underlying unemployment and underemployment rates provides a more comprehensive view of New Zealand’s labour market. The underemployment rate shows the proportion of part-time workers who are willing and available to work more hours than they usually do.

There were compositional differences between underutilisation for disabled and non-disabled people. Non-disabled people who are underutilised were more likely to be underemployed, while underutilised disabled people were more likely to be unemployed.

Unemployment rate higher amongst disabled people

The largest proportion of underutilised disabled people come from those who were unemployed.

The unemployment rate for disabled people in the June 2017 quarter was 11.4 percent, compared with 4.5 percent for non-disabled people. This was mainly due to a 39.7 percent unemployment rate for disabled people aged 15–24 years.

Disabled people tended to remain unemployed for longer than non-disabled people. The average duration of unemployment was almost 18 months for disabled people, while it was less than 10 months for non-disabled people.

The most common reason provided by disabled people who left their job in the last five years was their own sickness, illness, and/or injury (46.8 percent).

Disability or poor health prevents people from seeking work

‘Available potential jobseekers’ are people who are not actively seeking work but would like a paid job and were available in the week before being surveyed. This group includes people who stopped looking for work because they have become discouraged.

For disabled people not in the labour force, the most common reason given for not seeking work was their own sickness, illness, injury, or disability (66.2 percent). For non-disabled people, the most common reason for not seeking work was that they were studying or training (40.7 percent).

More information

In the June 2017 quarter, we began collecting data in the Household Labour Force Survey for people’s disability status. Doing this will allow us to report on different labour market outcomes for disabled people and non-disabled people in the June 2017 quarter each year.

Source: Stats NZ

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