New stats data about disabled workforce paint a grim picture, Commission says

New stats data about disabled workforce paint a grim picture, Commission says

September 7, 2017

New detailed labour market data has highlighted the significant work needed to create more meaningful employment opportunities for disabled New Zealanders, says the Human Rights Commission.

The data, released today by Stats NZ, is the first result following the inclusion of six disability related questions in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) and shows a range of concerning results including:

  • Disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed than non-disabled (11.4% v 4.5%)
  • Disabled people in work earn nearly $200 a week less than non-disabled people.
  • 20% of employed disabled workers are under-utilised and want more work, compared with around 5% under-employment in the general labour market.        
  • 42% of disabled youth are classed as NEET (not in education, employment or training) - four times higher than NEETs in the general population (10%).

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue say that while having regular data of this kind is a great development, the results are staggering and demonstrate a clear waste of human and economic potential.

“A diverse workforce is good for business on many levels. While many organisations are already capitalising on this, we need to remember that diversity is not just about gender, ethnicity, LGBTI and older workers - it also includes our disabled workers. 

“Every person who can work must have the opportunity to do so.

“Now that we have this regular data, we must use it as soon as possible to address the barriers to meaningful employment opportunities for disabled New Zealanders. We especially need to do better for our disabled young people at the key transition point from education into work.”

The data follows the inclusion of six disability related questions in the annual HLFS. They were also included in the recent biennial General Social Survey and will be included in the 2018 Census.

Ms Tesoriero says that having this information is a step in the right direction to better understand outcomes for disabled New Zealanders and help develop more responsive policies and practices. In the future, she would like a more comprehensive picture of disability to develop more targeted responses.

Both Commissioners are working closely together to plan and develop initiatives that will aim to improve employment outcomes for disabled New Zealanders. They will look to engage with business, Government and the disabled community as they carry out this work.

“Seeing these results today confirm why this is a priority for us.” 

Human Rights Commission