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Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Frequently asked questions about data on veterans

1. Is the Current Population Survey (CPS) a survey of veterans?

No. The CPS is a monthly nationwide household survey of approximately 60,000 eligible households that provides the labor force statistics for the nation's civilian noninstitutional population. The CPS is best known as the source of the official unemployment rate for the nation.

The survey includes two monthly questions to determine veteran status. (See FAQ numbers 3 and 4 for the monthly questions asked of veterans.)

2. How are veterans and nonveterans defined in the CPS?

In the CPS, veterans are defined as men and women who previously served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and who were civilians at the time they were surveyed.

Nonveterans are people who never served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

3. How is veteran status determined in the CPS?

Veteran status is obtained from the response to the following question:

Did you ever serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces?

The legal definition of veteran status used by the military and other federal agencies (such as the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs) differs from the definition used by the CPS. The CPS questionnaire does not ask if individuals have separation documents or a DD Form 214.

4. How is period of service for veterans defined?

The second monthly question asked of veterans each month identifies when a veteran served in the United States Armed Forces. In the CPS, veterans are classified into a service period based on their dates of service.

A veteran's period of service is obtained from the answers to the question:

When did you serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces?

The following service periods are used in the CPS:

  • Gulf War era II (September 2001–present)
  • Gulf War era I (August 1990–August 2001)
  • Vietnam era (August 1964–April 1975)
  • Korean War (July 1950–January 1955)
  • World War II (December 1941–December 1946)
  • Other service periods (all other time periods)

5. How is active duty status determined?

The following individuals are considered as having served on active duty:

  • Members of the U.S Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, or Space Force.
  • Members of the Reserve or National Guard whose unit was called to active duty by Presidential order.
  • U.S. officers commissioned by the Public Health Service and assigned to any branch of the Armed Services.
  • Cadets in a U.S. military academy (Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Naval Academy, or West Point).

6. Are people currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces counted in the CPS?

No. People who are currently on active duty at the time of the survey are not included in the CPS labor force estimates.

7. Where can I find job resources for veterans?

The Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Services (VETS) prepares veterans for meaningful careers, provides them with employment resources, protects their employment rights, and promotes their employment opportunities. In addition, the CareerOneStop Veteran and Military Transition Center, which is sponsored by the Department of Labor, is a website for employment, training, and financial help after military service. Please visit their websites for additional information and assistance.


Last Modified Date: September 21, 2021