March 25, 2009
In 2008, there were about 11.9 million veterans who had served during World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam era. Reflecting the fact that many were of retirement age, only about 40 percent of male veterans from these earlier wartime periods were in the labor force in 2008.
The great majority of the veterans of these earlier periods were at least 55 years old in 2008, and more than one-half were at least 65 years old. About 97 percent of veterans from these wartime periods were men.
The labor force participation rates for these veterans declined with age; for ages 45 to 54 it was 78.9 percent, for those ages 55 to 64 it was 64.8 percent, and for those ages 65 and over (more than half of the total) it was 16.3 percent.
The unemployment rates for these veterans were similar across the age groups—between 4 and 5 percent.
The Current Population Survey (CPS) is the source of these data. In the CPS, 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 they were surveyed. To learn more, see "Employment Situation of Veterans: 2008" (PDF) (HTML) USDL 09-0271.