Capturing the Elusive Working-Age Population with Disabilities: Who the Six Question Sequence in CPS-BMS and ACS Captures and Who It Misses

Richard V. Burkhauser, Cornell University
Andrew J. Houtenville, Cornell University
Jennifer Tennant, Cornell University

Bureau of Labor Statistics employment statistics for the population with disabilities have been based on a sequence of six impairment/activity-limitation questions since they were added to the CPS in 2008. However, critics note that none of these questions specifically reference an individual’s “difficulty working.” We compare working-age respondents in the March 2010 CPS-ASEC who answer the traditional work-activity limitation question, and the six-question disability sequence concurrently or in another month of the CPS-BMS. By most standards, SSDI and SSI beneficiaries should be captured in a working-age population with disabilities. In a face validity test, we show the six-question sequence captures 63.3 percent of the CPS-ASEC population reporting such benefits. Adding the work-activity limitation question population increases the percentage captured by 28.7 percentage points. We also test the robustness of employment rate levels and trends over the Great Recession years of 2007-2010 for disability populations based on different definitions.

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Presented in Poster Session 3