Employment Situation of Veterans Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, March 21, 2019                   	USDL-19-0451

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


                      EMPLOYMENT SITUATION OF VETERANS -- 2018


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--declined 
to 3.8 percent in 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The jobless 
rate for all veterans was little changed at 3.5 percent in 2018. In August 2018, 41 
percent of Gulf War-era II veterans had a service-connected disability, compared with 25 
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 and unemployment 
in the United States. Data about veterans are collected monthly in the CPS; these monthly 
data are the source of the 2018 annual averages presented in this news release. In August 
2018, 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, which provides definitions of terms used in this news release.

Highlights from the 2018 data:

  --The unemployment rate for female veterans declined to 3.0 percent in 2018, and the 
    rate for male veterans (3.5 percent) changed little over the year. The unemployment 
    rate for male veterans was not statistically different from the rate for female 
    veterans. (See table A.)

  --Among the 326,000 unemployed veterans in 2018, 54 percent were age 25 to 54, 40 
    percent were age 55 and over, and 6 percent were age 18 to 24. (See table 2A.)

  --Veterans with a service-connected disability had an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent 
    in August 2018, higher than the rate for veterans with no disability (3.5 percent). 
    (See table 7.)

  --About 1 in 3 employed veterans with a service-connected disability worked in the 
    public sector in August 2018, compared with about 1 in 5 veterans with no disability. 
    (See table 8.)

  --In 2018, the unemployment rate of veterans varied across the country, ranging from 
    1.4 percent in Iowa to 6.5 percent in the District of Columbia. (See table 6A.) 

The Veteran Population

In 2018, 19.2 million men and women were veterans, accounting for about 8 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 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 40 percent (7.6 million) of the total veteran population in 2018. Thirty-eight percent of veterans 
(7.2 million) served during Gulf War era I (August 1990 to August 2001) or Gulf War era II 
(September 2001 forward). About a quarter (4.3 million) served outside the designated wartime periods. 
(See tables 1 and 2A.)

Gulf War-era II Veterans

In 2018, there were 4.1 million veterans who had served during Gulf War era II (September 2001 forward). 
Seventeen percent of these veterans were women, compared with 3 percent of veterans from World War II, 
the Korean War, and the Vietnam era. Nearly seventy 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 women declined to 3.5 percent in 2018, while 
the unemployment rate for men (3.9 percent) changed little over the year. The unemployment rate for men 
was not statistically different from the rate for women in 2018. (See table A.)

In 2018, the unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era II veterans, at 3.9 percent, was little different 
than the rate for male nonveterans, at 3.8 percent. The unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era II 
veterans age 25 to 34 declined to 4.1 percent in 2018 from 6.0 percent in 2017. This was little different 
from the rate for nonveterans in the same age group (3.8 percent). Among men age 55 to 64, Gulf War-era 
II veterans had a lower unemployment rate (1.4 percent) than did nonveterans (3.0 percent). (See table 2B.)

Among women, the unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans (3.5 percent) was little different than the 
rate for nonveterans (3.7 percent) in 2018. By age, unemployment rates for female veterans and nonveterans 
were also little different. (See table 2C.)

Employed Gulf War-era II veterans were twice as likely to work in the public sector in 2018 as employed 
nonveterans--26 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Among the employed, 14 percent of Gulf War-era II 
veterans worked for the federal government, compared with 2 percent of nonveterans. (See table 5.) 

In August 2018, 45 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both 
locations. These veterans had an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, higher than the rate for Gulf War-era 
II veterans who served elsewhere (3.2 percent). (See table 10.)

Gulf War-era I Veterans

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 in 2018) was similar to that of Gulf War-era II veterans (17 percent). All Gulf 
War-era I veterans were age 35 and over in 2018, compared with 54 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans. 
(See tables 1 and 2A.)

In 2018, the unemployment rates for male and female Gulf War-era I veterans were little different at 2.9 
percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. The rate for male Gulf War-era I veterans was lower than that of 
their Gulf War-era II counterparts (3.9 percent). Rates for female veterans of Gulf War eras I and II were 
little different. (See tables 2B and 2C.) 

Veterans of Other Service Periods

In 2018, 4.3 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 45 years or older at the time of the survey. Sixteen percent of these veterans were age 45 
to 54 in 2018, another 45 percent were age 55 to 64, and another 39 percent were age 65 and over. 
(See table 2A.)

In 2018, about 1 in 10 veterans of other service periods were women. Among veterans of other service 
periods, the unemployment rate for men (3.5 percent) was nearly the same as the rate for women 
(3.6 percent). (See table 1.)

Veterans with a Service-connected Disability

In August 2018, 4.7 million veterans, or 25 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 5.2 percent in August 2018, 
higher than the rate for veterans with no disability (3.5 percent). The labor force participation rate 
for veterans with a service-connected disability (48.0 percent) was little different than the rate for 
veterans with no disability (48.7 percent). 

Among veterans with a service-connected disability, 29 percent reported a disability rating of less than 
30 percent, while another 41 percent had a rating of 60 percent or higher. In August 2018, 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 (56.3 percent and 40.0 percent, respectively). 
The unemployment rate for veterans with a disability rating of less than 30 percent was 4.2 percent, not 
statistically different than for those with a disability rating of 60 percent or higher (6.1 percent).

Among veterans who served during Gulf War era II, 41 percent (1.7 million) reported a service-connected 
disability in August 2018. Nearly half of these veterans had a service-connected disability of 60 
percent or higher. In August 2018, 73.5 percent of all Gulf War-era II veterans with a service-connected 
disability were in the labor force, lower than the 85.8 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 5.3 percent, not statistically different from those with no disability 
(3.3 percent).

In August 2018, 27 percent (843,000) of veterans who served during Gulf War era I reported a 
service-connected disability. Their labor force participation rate (67.9 percent) was lower than 
the rate for veterans who did not have a disability (85.4 percent). The unemployment rate for Gulf 
War-era I veterans with a service-connected disability (4.5 percent) was not statistically different 
than that for Gulf War-era I veterans without a service-connected disability (3.3 percent). 

Among the 1.6 million veterans with a service-connected disability from World War II, the Korean War, 
and the Vietnam era, 12.6 percent were in the labor force in August 2018, lower than the 20.7 percent 
of veterans from these periods who did not have a service-connected disability. The unemployment rate 
of veterans from these wartime periods with a service-connected disability was 1.2 percent, lower than 
their counterparts with no disability (5.1 percent).

Fourteen percent (614,000) of veterans who served during other service periods reported a service-connected 
disability in August 2018. The labor force participation rate of these veterans (40.3 percent) was lower 
than their counterparts without a service-connected disability (48.4 percent). The unemployment rate 
was higher for veterans with a service-connected disability (9.7 percent) than those with no disability 
(2.9 percent). 

Regardless of period of service, many veterans with a service-connected disability worked in the public 
sector. In August 2018, 32 percent of employed veterans with a disability worked in federal, state, or 
local government, compared with 18 percent of veterans with no disability and 13 percent of nonveterans. 
Twenty-two percent of employed veterans with a disability worked for the federal government, compared 
with 8 percent of veterans with no disability and 2 percent of nonveterans. (See table 8.) 

Reserve and National Guard Membership

In August 2018, one-third of Gulf War-era veterans (August 1990 forward) 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 (82.9 percent) than for veterans who were never 
members (79.5 percent). Among Gulf War-era veterans, those who were current or past members of the Reserve 
or National Guard had an unemployment rate (3.4 percent) that was not statistically different than those 
who had never been members (4.1 percent). (See table 9.)



The PDF version of the news release

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: March 21, 2019