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Spotlight on Statistics

May 2010

Employment Situation of Veterans Spotlight on Veterans

Audio Script

In honor of our Nation's veterans, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is highlighting statistics about veterans and how they are faring in the labor market.  In 2009, there were 22 million veterans in the civilian population.  About half of them were in the military during World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam era.  Recent veterans—those who have served sometime since September 2001—accounted for nearly 1 in 10 of all veterans.

Veterans are, on average, older and more likely to be male than are nonveterans.  These demographic differences are reflected in the unemployment rates of these two groups. For instance, veterans have a lower unemployment rate than nonveterans. This reflects, at least in part, the fact that older workers tend to have lower unemployment rates than younger workers.  However, unemployment rates for veterans and nonveterans in the same sex and age groups are similar.

Looking at what young veterans do after being discharged, 42 percent of them held a job in the first month; this proportion rose to 84 percent after 2 years.  Many young veterans enroll in college after leaving the military.  In the first month after separation from the Armed Forces, 15 percent of young veterans ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college.  Two years after discharge, nearly a quarter of veterans ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college.  In 2009, recent veterans were more likely to have taken some college classes or to have earned an associate degree than were nonveterans, although recent veterans were less likely to be college graduates.

In 2009, among veterans who served sometime since August 1990, those with a service-connected disability were less likely to be employed than those without such a disability.

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