How employment of veterans compared to the rest of the population

How employment of veterans compared to the rest of the population

Stucker cited data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to visualize how veteran employment compares to the rest of the population. – Canvas

Annalize Manz

How employment of veterans compared to the rest of the population

When someone completes military service and returns to civilian life, their veteran status may go unnoticed. Unless you ask about their work experience or background, you may not know that your colleague, financial advisor, doctor, or neighbor has served on active duty.

Nevertheless, veterans make up a significant portion of the population, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2021 7% civilian non-institutional population 18 years of age or older—adults residing in the U.S. who are not active-duty military personnel or inmates of institutions such as prisons or mental institutions—were veterans. The civilian labor force refers to any civilian non-institutional population, employed or unemployed, including both veterans and non-veterans.

Once a veteran retires from the military and starts working again, how do their job prospects stack up against those of their non-veteran colleagues? To understand how veteran employment compares to the rest of the population, stacker brought data from BLS create multiple visualizations.

Information from the report, released in 2021, was sourced from the monthly Current Population Survey of approximately 60,000 eligible households, which provides data on employment, unemployment, and people outside the US labor force. CPS collects data on veterans on a monthly basis, and this data is the source of the 2021 annual averages provided by the BLS.

The 2021 data has also been adjusted for population controls from the new Department of Veterans Affairs veteran population model. A programming error in the 2021 survey also prevented veterans whose service ended before August 1964 from being asked about service-related disabilities, so the data was collected using information collected in the 2020 survey.

Read on to compare employment between veterans and non-veterans, which states have the highest veteran unemployment rates, which industries attract the highest percentage of veterans, and other facts about veteran employment rates.

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Bar chart showing the employment of male veterans in 2021


In 2021, the percentage of employed male non-veterans was higher than the percentage of employed male veterans.

There is no doubt that military service is a very different experience than many civilian careers, and the challenges of returning to the civilian workforce can be many. Overall, veteran employment rates were lower than those of non-veterans across all racial and ethnic groups.

Studies have shown that veterans cite job search as the biggest problem about returning to civilian life. In 2021, 46% of veterans were employed compared to 61% of non-veterans. For male veterans, the gap was even wider, with 44% of male veterans employed compared to 69% of non-veteran males. Notably, young male veterans have higher employment rates than non-veterans, but as they get older, their employment rate drops.

A bar chart showing the employment of female veterans in 2021


Unlike men, the employment rate for female veterans and non-veterans is the same.

The numbers for women are more evenly distributed, with 54% of non-veteran women working compared to 56% of veteran women. While the employment rate of young female veterans was slightly lower than that of the same group of non-veterans, the employment rate of female veterans aged 35–44 was higher than that of their non-veteran counterparts. As they mature, the employment rate of female veterans and female non-veterans is relatively the same.

Unemployment map showing the percentage of unemployed veterans in the labor force by US state.


Washington and Nevada have the highest unemployment rates among veterans.

Considering that more than half of the veterans are not working, the unemployment rate among working veterans is quite low. It varies greatly from state to state, from 1.6% in Kentucky to 7.6% in Washington. This variation reflects differences in labor markets and veterans’ living conditions across states.

Analysis 2020 A survey by personal finance website SmartAsset found that states with lower housing costs, more veterans, affordable Veterans Affairs health centers and Veterans Affairs administrations, and low (or no) taxes on military pensions were more veteran-friendly. The report also took into account additional factors such as the number and percentage of businesses owned by veterans. South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia and Maine are among the top 5 states for veterans to live and work in 2020.

A bar chart showing the top industries where veterans worked in 2021


Most veterans work in non-agricultural private sectors, especially manufacturing, education, and healthcare.

In 2021, the majority of working veterans worked in the private sector in non-farm industries, with manufacturing, professional and business services, and education and healthcare appearing as the top three industries in the report. About a quarter of employed veterans worked in public authorities, mostly at the federal level. This is a significant difference from the non-veteran population, as only 13.3% of non-veteran civilians worked in government.

The report also found that veterans with a service-related disability were more likely to work in the public sector than those without disabilities: 27% versus 21%, respectively. About 4.9 million veterans, or 27% of the total population, reported a service-related disability.

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