Describes a study that builds upon an existing knowledge base and national snapshot about the employment situation of representative sample of adults with intellectual disabilities; and explains the survey methods used to understand present employment status, and the progress made over two decades, including labor force participation rates and other demographic information.

This study, published in the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 39 (2013), summarizes employment and labor participation data about adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) as reported by their parents in a national phone survey conducted from 2011–2012. The authors frame the scope of the problem as the persistence in under- and un- employment among adults with disabilities: “During the period of 2008–2010 the estimated employment rate of adults with disabilities was extremely low, ranging from 39% to 34% compared with the much higher rates of 79% and 76% for individuals without a disability…Presently, the employment rate for adults with disabilities stands at 30%, in stark contrast to 76% for adults without disabilities...


The study “included a nationally representative random sample of 1,017 parents/guardians of adult children (21 years of age or older) with an intellectual disability surveyed by Gallup[, Inc.] These parents/guardians were selected from approximately 341,000 households screened by Gallup. This methodology allowed for the inclusion of a sample of adults with ID who had never been in the labor force or even sought employment” (p.157).


“To develop an instrument specific to the objectives of this study, a thorough review was conducted of the measures that have been used to describe the employment [situation] of adults with ID. From this review, questions were generated that addressed not only employment status and history, but also several other related areas including the nature of the disability, the presence of behavior problems, and present residence” (p.159).


(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)


Siperstein, G. N., Parker, R. C., & Drascher, M.  (2013). National snapshot of adults with intellectual disabilities in the labor force. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 39, 157-165.