Understanding Persons With Disabilities' Reasons for Not Seeking Employment

Academic Article


  • Unemployment is common for persons with disabilities but little is known about the different reasons why people with disabilities may not be seeking employment. This study identified the reasons that people living with disabilities in the United States report for not seeking employment, from the 2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey (KFNEDS), and categorization of reasons by demographic, socioeconomic, and disability characteristics. We conducted a content analysis of responses to an open-ended question on the KFNEDS. The analytic sample ( n = 1,254) consisted of adults (ages 18–64) living with disabilities who self-identified as either unemployed or not seeking employment. Team coding used a hybrid inductive/deductive approach to identify nine meaningful reasons why people with disabilities may not seek employment. Overall, medical conditions, functional limitations, or their disability were more likely to be reported as reasons for not seeking work, rather than situational reasons associated with workplace engagement, such as “lack of job opportunities.” Bivariate comparisons of codes across demographic, socioeconomic, and disability characteristics noted variability in reasons reported by respondents by sex, race/ethnicity, age, household income, and disability. These findings provide an understanding of diverse reasons for not seeking employment, which can inform programs and policies that promote labor force participation of people with disabilities.
  • Authors

  • Fyffe, Denise C
  • Lequerica, Anthony H
  • Ward-Sutton, Courtney
  • Williams, Natalie F
  • Sundar, Vidya
  • O'Neill, John
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • October 2022
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In


  • employment discrimination
  • functional capacity
  • qualitative research
  • rehabilitation counseling process or strategies
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 3
  • End Page

  • 12
  • Volume

  • 66
  • Issue

  • 1