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Economic News Release
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Employment Situation of Veterans Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Thursday, March 18, 2021				USDL-21-0438

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


		    EMPLOYMENT SITUATION OF VETERANS -- 2020


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--rose to 7.3 percent in 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. The jobless rate for all veterans increased to 6.5 percent in 2020. These
increases reflect the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the labor
market. In August 2020, 40 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans had a service-
connected disability, compared with 26 percent of all veterans.

This information was obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly
sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that provides data on employment,
unemployment, and persons not in the labor force in the United States. Data about
veterans are collected monthly in the CPS; these monthly data are the source of
the 2020 annual averages presented in this news release. In August 2020, 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 news release.
The supplement was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the
U.S. Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service. For more
information, see the Technical Note in this news release.

Highlights from the 2020 data:

  --Unemployment rates for both male and female veterans increased in 2020, reflecting
    the COVID-19 pandemic. The rate for male veterans was 6.5 percent, little
    different from the rate of 6.7 percent for female veterans. (See table A.)

  --Unemployment rates for White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic veterans were lower than
    for their nonveteran counterparts in 2020. (See table 1.)

  --Among the 581,000 unemployed veterans in 2020, 54 percent were ages 25 to 54, 41
    percent were age 55 and over, and 5 percent were ages 18 to 24. (See table 2A.) 

  --The unemployment rate of veterans with a service-connected disability, at 6.2
    percent in August 2020, did not have a statistically significant change over the
    year. The rate for veterans with no disability rose to 7.2 percent. (See table 7.)

  --Gulf War-era II veterans who reported 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 in August 2020 (91.5 percent, compared with
    63.6 percent). (See table 7.)

  --In August 2020, 31 percent of employed veterans with a service-connected disability
    worked in the public sector, compared with 19 percent of veterans with no disability
    and 14 percent of nonveterans. (See table 8.)

  --In 2020, the unemployment rate of veterans varied across the country, ranging from
    2.7 percent in Nebraska to 11.3 percent in Michigan. (See table 6A.)

The Veteran Population

In 2020, 18.5 million men and women were veterans, accounting for about 7 percent of the
civilian noninstitutional population age 18 and over. Of all veterans, 1 in 10 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 much more likely to be men than are nonveterans, and they 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 60 years old. Veterans
who served during these wartime periods accounted for 37 percent (6.8 million) of the total
veteran population in 2020. Forty-one percent of veterans (7.6 million) served during Gulf
War era I (August 1990 to August 2001) or Gulf War era II (September 2001 to present).
Twenty-two percent (4.1 million) served outside the designated wartime periods. (See tables
1 and 2A.) 

Gulf War-era II Veterans

In 2020, there were 4.5 million veterans who had served during Gulf War era II (September
2001 to present). Seventeen percent of these veterans were women, compared with 3.5 percent
of veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era. Two-thirds 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 rose to 7.4 percent and the
rate for women rose to 7.2 percent in 2020. These rates were not statistically different
from each other. (See table A.)

In 2020, the unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era II veterans, at 7.4 percent, was not
statistically different than the rate for male nonveterans, at 7.8 percent. By age,
unemployment rates were also not statistically different among male Gulf War-era II
veterans and male nonveterans. (See table 2B.)

The unemployment rate for female Gulf War-era II veterans was 7.2 percent in 2020, not
statistically different from the rate for female nonveterans (8.2 percent). The unemployment
rate for female Gulf War-era II veterans ages 25 to 34 was lower than the rate of their
nonveteran counterparts (4.6 percent, compared with 8.4 percent). In other age groups,
the unemployment rates were not statistically different for female Gulf War-era II veterans
and nonveterans. (See table 2C.)

Employed Gulf War-era II veterans were twice as likely to work in the public sector in 2020
as employed nonveterans--28 percent versus 14 percent. 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 2020, 40 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported serving in Iraq, Afghanistan,
or both locations. These veterans had an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, lower than the
rate for Gulf War-era II veterans who served elsewhere (10.2 percent). (See table 10.)

Gulf War-era I Veterans

In 2020, of the 3.1 million veterans who served during Gulf War era I (August 1990 to August
2001), the proportion who were women (16 percent) was similar to that for Gulf War-era II
veterans (17 percent). All Gulf War-era I veterans were age 35 and over in 2020, compared
with 60 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans. Forty-eight percent of Gulf War-era I veterans
were ages 45 to 54, 23 percent were ages 55 to 64, 19 percent were ages 35 to 44, and 11
percent were age 65 and over. (See tables 1 and 2A.)

In 2020, the unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era I veterans (4.5 percent) was lower
than those of their Gulf War-era II counterparts (7.4 percent). The difference in 
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 than older people. The rates for female Gulf War-era I and Gulf War-era
II veterans were not statistically different (6.4 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively). 
Among Gulf War-era I veterans, the unemployment rate increased for both men and women in 
2020, and the rate for men was lower than for women. (See tables 2B and 2C.)
 
Veterans of Other Service Periods

In 2020, 4.1 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 age 45 and over at the time of the
survey. Fifty percent of these veterans were ages 55 to 64, 40 percent were age 65 and 
over, and 10 percent were ages 45 to 54. (See table 2A.)

In 2020, 1 in 10 veterans of other service periods were women. Among veterans of other
service periods, the unemployment rate for men (7.1 percent) was not statistically 
different from the rate for women (5.3 percent). The rate for men increased from the prior
year, while the rate for women did not show a statistically significant change. (See 
table 1.)

Veterans with a Service-connected Disability

In August 2020, 4.7 million veterans, or 26 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 6.2 percent in
August 2020, not statistically different from the rate for veterans with no disability
(7.2 percent). The unemployment rates for male and female veterans with a service-connected
disability were not statistically different (5.8 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively).
The labor force participation rate for veterans with a service-connected disability (48.6
percent) was also not statistically different from the rate for veterans with no disability
(47.2 percent). 

Among veterans with a service-connected disability, 27 percent reported a disability rating
of less than 30 percent, while 44 percent had a rating of 60 percent or higher. In August
2020, 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 (53.8
percent versus 41.2 percent). The unemployment rate for veterans with a disability rating
of less than 30 percent was 4.7 percent, lower than the rate for those with a disability
rating of 60 percent or higher (9.6 percent).

Among veterans who served during Gulf War era II, 40 percent (1.8 million) reported a 
service-connected disability. In August 2020, 73.8 percent of all Gulf War-era II veterans
with a service-connected disability were in the labor force, lower than the 87.7 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 8.2 
percent, not statistically different from those with no disability (8.8 percent). 

Among Gulf War-era II veterans with a service-connected disability, 19 percent reported a
disability rating of less than 30 percent and 54 percent reported a disability rating of 60
percent or higher in August 2020. Gulf War-era II veterans who reported a 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 (91.5 percent, compared with 63.6 percent). The unemployment
rate for veterans with a disability rating of less than 30 percent was 5.8 percent in August
2020, much lower than the rate for those with a disability rating of 60 percent or higher
(11.8 percent).

In August 2020, 25 percent (754,000) of veterans who served during Gulf War era I reported
a service-connected disability. Their labor force participation rate (63.4 percent) was
lower than the rate for veterans who did not have a disability (77.7 percent). The 
unemployment rate for Gulf War-era I veterans with a service-connected disability (2.8 
percent) was not statistically different from that for Gulf War-era I veterans without a 
service-connected disability (4.6 percent).

Thirteen percent (528,000) of veterans who served during other service periods reported a
service-connected disability in August 2020. The labor force participation rate of these
veterans (44.5 percent) was little different from their counterparts without a service-
connected disability (44.3 percent). The unemployment rates were not statistically different
for veterans with a service-connected disability (4.6 percent) and those with no disability
(6.9 percent).

Regardless of period of service, many veterans with a service-connected disability worked
in the public sector. In August 2020, 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 14 percent of nonveterans. Nineteen percent of employed veterans with a 
disability worked for the federal government, compared with 9 percent of veterans with no 
disability and 3 percent of nonveterans. (See table 8.)

Reserve and National Guard Membership 

In August 2020, 36 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans were current or past members of the
Reserve or National Guard. The labor force participation rate was higher for veterans who
were current or past members of the Reserve or National Guard (86.0 percent) than for 
veterans who had never been members (79.0 percent). Among Gulf War-era II veterans, those 
who were current or past members of the Reserve or National Guard had an unemployment rate
(6.4 percent) that was lower than for those who had never been members (10.0 percent). 
(See table 9.)



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Last Modified Date: March 18, 2021