Employment Situation of Veterans Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Wednesday, March 22, 2017                      USDL-17-0354

Technical information: (202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
Media contact:         (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


                           EMPLOYMENT SITUATION OF VETERANS -- 2016


The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
at any time since September 2001--a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans--
edged down to 5.1 percent in 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
The jobless rate for all veterans also edged down over the year to 4.3 percent.
About 36 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans had a service-connected disability in
August 2016, compared with 22 percent of all veterans.

This information was obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly
sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides data on employment and
unemployment in the United States. Data about veterans are collected monthly in the
CPS; these monthly data are the source of the 2016 annual averages presented in this
news release. In August 2016, a supplement to the CPS collected additional information
about veterans on topics such as service-connected disability and veterans' current or
past Reserve or National Guard membership. Information from the supplement is also
presented in this release. The supplement was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs and by the U.S. Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training
Service. For more information, see the Technical Note, which provides definitions of
terms used in this release.

Highlights from the 2016 data:

   --The unemployment rate for male veterans overall was not statistically different
     from the rate for female veterans in 2016. The unemployment rate for male 
     veterans (4.2 percent) edged down over the year, and the rate for female 
     veterans (5.0 percent) changed little. (See table A.)

   --Among the 453,000 unemployed veterans in 2016, 60 percent were age 45 and over,
     36 percent were age 25 to 44, and 4 percent were age 18 to 24. (See table 2A.)

   --Veterans with a service-connected disability had an unemployment rate of 4.8
     percent in August 2016, about the same as veterans with no disability (4.7
     percent). (See table 7.)

  --Nearly 1 in 3 employed veterans with a service-connected disability worked in
    the public sector in August 2016, compared with about 1 in 5 veterans with no
    disability. (See table 8.)

   --In 2016, the unemployment rate of veterans varied across the country, ranging
     from 1.8 percent in Indiana to 7.6 percent in the District of Columbia. (See
     table 6A.)

The Veteran Population

In 2016, 20.9 million men and women were veterans, accounting for about 9 percent of the
civilian noninstitutional population age 18 and over. About 10 percent of all veterans
were women. In the survey, veterans are defined as men and women who have previously
served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and who were civilians at the time these
data were collected. Veterans are more likely to be men than nonveterans and also tend
to be older. In part, this reflects the characteristics of veterans who served during
World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era, all of whom are now over 55 years
old. Veterans who served during these wartime periods accounted for 41 percent (8.5
million) of the total veteran population in 2016. Just over one-third of veterans
(7.3 million) served during Gulf War era I (August 1990 to August 2001) or Gulf War 
era II (September 2001 forward). Another quarter (5.2 million) served outside the
designated wartime periods. (See tables 1 and 2A.)

Gulf War-era II Veterans

In 2016, there were 3.9 million veterans who had served during Gulf War era II
(September 2001 forward). Eighteen percent of these veterans were women, compared
with about 4 percent of veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam
era. Seventy-one percent of all Gulf War-era II veterans were between the ages of 25
and 44. (See tables 1 and 2A.)

Among Gulf War-era II veterans, the unemployment rate for men was not statistically
different from the rate for women in 2016. The unemployment rates for both men (5.0
percent) and women (5.6 percent) were little changed from the prior year. (See
table A.)

The unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era II veterans (5.0 percent) was little
different than the rate for male nonveterans (4.8 percent) in 2016. Among men age 25
to 34, Gulf War-era II veterans had a higher unemployment rate (6.6 percent) than did
nonveterans (4.9 percent). For the other age groups, unemployment rates of male Gulf
War-era II veterans and nonveterans were not statistically different. (See table 2B.)

Among women, the unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans (5.6 percent) was not
statistically different from the rate for nonveterans (4.6 percent) in 2016. By age,
unemployment rates for female Gulf War-era II veterans and nonveterans were not
statistically different. (See table 2C.)

Employed Gulf War-era II veterans were about twice as likely to work in the public
sector in 2016 as employed nonveterans--28 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Among the employed, 16 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans worked for the federal
government, compared with 2 percent of nonveterans. (See table 5.)

In August 2016, 48 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported serving in Iraq,
Afghanistan, or both locations. These veterans had an unemployment rate of 4.8
percent, not statistically different from Gulf War-era II veterans who served
elsewhere (6.0 percent). (See table 10.)

Gulf War-era I Veterans

Of the 3.4 million veterans who served during Gulf War era I (August 1990 to August
2001), 15 percent were women. Nearly all (98 percent) Gulf War-era I veterans were
age 35 and over in 2016, compared with half of Gulf War-era II veterans. (See tables 1
and 2A.)

In 2016, the unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era I veterans was 3.5 percent, lower
than the rate for their Gulf War-era II veteran counterparts (5.0 percent). The
difference in the unemployment rates reflects, at least in part, the older age profile
of veterans who served during Gulf War era I. Younger people--whether veterans or
nonveterans--tend to have higher unemployment rates. Among women, the rates for Gulf
War-era I veterans (4.2 percent) and Gulf War-era II veterans (5.6 percent) were not
statistically different. (See tables 2B and 2C.)

Veterans of Other Service Periods

In 2016, 5.2 million veterans had served on active duty during "other service periods,"
mainly between the Korean War and the Vietnam era and between the Vietnam era and Gulf
War era I. All veterans from this period of service were 40 years or older at the time
of the survey. Twenty-six percent of these veterans were age 45 to 54 in 2016, another
34 percent were age 55 to 64, and another 39 percent were age 65 and over. (See
table 2A.)

In 2016, 1 in 10 veterans of other service periods were women. Among veterans of other
service periods, the unemployment rate for men was 4.1 percent, little different than
the rate for women (4.9 percent). (See table 1.)

Veterans with a Service-connected Disability

In August 2016, about 4.6 million veterans, or 22 percent of the total, had a service-
connected disability. Veterans with a service-connected disability are assigned a
disability rating by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. Department of
Defense. Ratings range from 0 to 100 percent, in increments of 10 percentage points,
depending on the severity of the condition. (See table 7.)

The unemployment rate for veterans with a service-connected disability was 4.8 percent
in August 2016, about the same as veterans with no disability (4.7 percent). The labor
force participation rate for veterans with a service-connected disability (46.4 percent)
was lower than the rate for veterans with no disability (50.7 percent).

Among veterans with a service-connected disability, 30 percent had a disability rating
of less than 30 percent, while another 37 percent had a rating of 60 percent or higher.
In August 2016, veterans with a service-connected disability rating of less than 30
percent were much more likely to be in the labor force than those with a rating of 60
percent or higher (54.7 percent and 29.9 percent, respectively). The unemployment rate
for veterans with a disability rating of less than 30 percent was 4.4 percent, not
statistically different than for those with a disability rating of 60 percent or higher
(3.8 percent).

Among veterans who served during Gulf War era II, 36 percent (1.4 million) had a
service-connected disability. Of these, 76.0 percent were in the labor force in August
2016, lower than the 86.6 percent for veterans from this period with no service-
connected disability. Among Gulf War-era II veterans, the unemployment rate for those
with a service-connected disability was 5.4 percent, little different from those with
no disability (5.7 percent).

In August 2016, about a quarter (901,000) of veterans who served during Gulf War era I
had a service-connected disability. Their labor force participation rate (64.0 percent)
was lower than the rate for veterans from the era who did not have a disability (86.7
percent). The unemployment rate for Gulf War-era I veterans with a service-connected
disability (5.3 percent) was not statistically different than that for Gulf War-era I
veterans without a service-connected disability (4.2 percent).

Among the 1.6 million veterans with a service-connected disability from World War II,
the Korean War, and the Vietnam era, 14.1 percent were in the labor force in August
2016 , lower than the 25.3 percent of veterans from these periods who did not have a
service-connected disability. The unemployment rate of veterans with a disability from
these wartime periods was 3.7 percent, about the same as their counterparts with no
disability (3.8 percent).

About 669,000 or 13 percent of veterans who served during other service periods
reported a service-connected disability in August 2016. The labor force participation
rate for these veterans (37.8 percent) was lower than their counterparts without a 
service-connected disability (50.3 percent), while the unemployment rate was not 
statistically different for veterans with a service-connected disability (2.0 percent) 
and those with no disability (4.8 percent).

Regardless of period of service, many veterans with a service-connected disability
worked in the public sector. In August 2016, 31 percent of employed veterans with a
disability worked in federal, state, or local government, compared with 19 percent of
veterans with no disability and 13 percent of nonveterans. In particular, 20 percent
of employed veterans with a disability worked for the federal government, compared
with 7 percent of veterans with no disability and 2 percent of nonveterans. (See
table 8.)

Reserve and National Guard Membership

In August 2016, about one-third of Gulf War-era veterans (August 1990 to present) were
current or past members of the Reserve or National Guard. Labor force participation
rates were higher for veterans who were current or past members of the Reserve or
National Guard (83.6 percent), compared with veterans who were never members (80.6
percent). Among Gulf War-era veterans, those who were current or past members of the
Reserve or National Guard had an unemployment rate (4.0 percent) that was not
statistically different than those who had never been members (5.6 percent). (See
table 9.)



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Last Modified Date: March 22, 2017