Employment Situation of Veterans Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, March 22, 2016                         USDL-16-0611

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


                    EMPLOYMENT SITUATION OF VETERANS -- 2015


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 by 1.4 percentage points over the year to 5.8 percent in 2015, 
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The jobless rate for all 
veterans, at 4.6 percent, also declined from a year earlier. About 33 percent of
Gulf War-era II veterans reported having a service-connected disability in August
2015, compared with 20 percent of all veterans.

This information was obtained from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly 
sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides data on employment and
unemployment in the United States. Data about veterans are collected monthly in
the CPS; those monthly data are the source of the 2015 annual averages presented in
this news release. In August 2015, 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 release. The supplement was co-sponsored 
by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and by 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 release. 

Estimates from the August 2015 veterans supplement shown in tables 7 through 10
of this release reflect a change in the weighting methodology. See the note at
the end of this news release for more information.

Highlights from the 2015 data:

--The unemployment rate for male veterans overall was lower than the rate 
  for female veterans in 2015. The unemployment rate for male veterans 
  declined to 4.5 percent. The rate for female veterans changed little at 
  5.4 percent. (See table A.)

--Among the 495,000 unemployed veterans in 2015, 57 percent were age 45 
  and over. About 37 percent were age 25 to 44, and 5 percent were age 18 
  to 24. (See table 2A.)

--Veterans with a service-connected disability had an unemployment rate of 
  5.4 percent in August 2015, not statistically different from veterans 
  with no disability. (See table 7.)

--More than 1 in 3 employed veterans with a service-connected disability 
  worked in the public sector in August 2015, compared with about 1 in 5 
  veterans with no disability. (See table 8.)

--In 2015, the unemployment rate of veterans varied across the country, 
  ranging from 1.9 percent in Iowa to 7.7 percent in the District of 
  Columbia. (See table 6A.)

The Veteran Population

In 2015, 21.2 million men and women were veterans, accounting for about 9 percent 
of the civilian noninstitutional population age 18 and over. 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 and older than nonveterans. In part, this 
reflects the characteristics of veterans who served during World War II, the Korean 
War, and the Vietnam era. Veterans who served during these wartime periods 
accounted for 42 percent (8.9 million) of the total veteran population in 2015. 
One-third of veterans (7.0 million) served during Gulf War era I (August 1990 to 
August 2001) or Gulf War era II (September 2001 forward). Another quarter 
(5.3 million) served outside the designated wartime periods. About 9 percent of 
all veterans are women. (See table 1.)

Gulf War-era II Veterans

In 2015, there were 3.6 million veterans who had served during Gulf War era II. 
Eighteen percent of these veterans were women, compared with about 4 percent of 
veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era. Nearly half of 
all Gulf War-era II veterans were between the ages of 25 and 34. 
(See tables 1 and 2A.)

Among Gulf War-era II veterans, the unemployment rate for men was not statistically 
different from the rate for women in 2015. The unemployment rate for men was 5.7
percent in 2015, down from 6.9 percent in 2014. The unemployment rate for women, 
at 6.4 percent in 2015, was not statistically different from the prior year 
(8.5 percent). (See table A.)

The unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era II veterans (5.7 percent) was little 
different than the rate for male nonveterans (5.3 percent) in 2015. For most age 
groups, unemployment rates of male veterans and nonveterans were not statistically 
different. Among men age 25 to 34, Gulf War-era II veterans had a higher unemployment
rate (6.8 percent) than did nonveterans (5.4 percent). Among men age 45 to 54,
however, Gulf War-era II veterans had a lower unemployment rate (2.6 percent)
than did nonveterans (3.7 percent). (See table 2B.)

Among women, the unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans (6.4 percent) was 
not statistically different from the rate for nonveterans (5.0 percent) in 2015. 
By age, unemployment rates for female veterans and nonveterans were similar. 
(See table 2C.)

A higher proportion of employed Gulf War-era II veterans worked in the public sector 
in 2015 than employed nonveterans--26 percent and 14 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 2015, 46 percent of Gulf War-era II veterans reported serving in Iraq, 
Afghanistan, or both locations. These veterans had an unemployment rate of 4.4 
percent, not statistically different from Gulf War-era II veterans who served 
elsewhere (5.5 percent). (Beginning with data for August 2015, these estimates 
from the veterans supplement reflect a change in the weighting methodology; see 
the note at the end of this news release.) (See table 10.)

Gulf War-era I Veterans

Of the 3.4 million veterans who served during Gulf War era I (August 1990 to August 
2001), the proportion who were women (15 percent in 2015) was similar to that of 
Gulf War-era II veterans (18 percent). Almost all (97 percent) Gulf War-era I 
veterans were age 35 and over in 2015, compared with 46 percent of Gulf War-era 
II veterans. (See tables 1 and 2A.)

In 2015, the unemployment rate for male Gulf War-era I veterans was 3.5 percent, 
lower than the rate for their Gulf War-era II veteran counterparts (5.7 percent). 
The difference in the 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.
Among women, the rates for Gulf War-era I veterans (5.5 percent) and Gulf 
War-era II veterans (6.4 percent) were not statistically different. 
(See tables 2B and 2C.)

Veterans of Other Service Periods

In 2015, 5.3 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 for this period of service were 40 years or 
older at the time of the survey. Thirty percent of these veterans were age 45 to 
54 in 2015, another 29 percent were age 55 to 64, and another 40 percent were age 
65 and over. (See table 2A.)

In 2015, 9 in 10 veterans of other service periods were men. Among veterans of other 
service periods, the unemployment rate for men was 4.5 percent, higher than the rate 
of 3.3 percent for women. (See table 1.)

Veterans with a Service-connected Disability 	

In August 2015, about 4.3 million veterans, or 20 percent of the total, had a 
service-connected disability. (Beginning with data for August 2015, these estimates 
from the veterans supplement reflect a change in the weighting methodology. This 
change resulted in a higher estimate of veterans with a service-connected disability 
than in past years. See the note at the end of this news release for more information 
about the change in methodology.) 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 
5.4 percent in August 2015, not statistically different from those with no 
disability (4.3 percent). The labor force participation rate for veterans with 
a service-connected disability (45.8 percent) was lower than the rate for those 
with no disability (51.2 percent). 

Among veterans with a service-connected disability, about 29 percent reported a 
disability rating of less than 30 percent, while another 37 percent had a rating 
of 60 percent or higher. In August 2015, 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 (53.6 percent and 30.7 
percent, respectively). The unemployment rate for veterans with a disability rating 
of less than 30 percent was 4.0 percent, much lower than for those with a 
disability rating of 60 percent or higher (9.6 percent).

Among veterans who served during Gulf War era II, about 1 in 3 (1.2 million) 
reported having a service-connected disability. Of these, 73.2 percent were in the 
labor force in August 2015, lower than the 87.3 percent for veterans from this 
period with no service-connected disability. Among Gulf War-era II veterans, the 
unemployment rate of those with a service-connected disability was 5.5 percent, not 
statistically different from those with no disability (4.8 percent).

In August 2015, about a quarter (853,000) of veterans who served during Gulf War 
era I reported a service-connected disability. Their labor force participation rate 
(68.8 percent) was lower than the rate for veterans from the era who did not have 
a disability (87.2 percent). The unemployment rate for Gulf War-era I veterans 
with a service-connected disability was not statistically different than that for 
Gulf War-era I veterans without a service-connected disability.

Among the 1.7 million veterans with a service-connected disability from World War 
II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era, 13.2 percent were in the labor force in 
August 2015, lower than the 26.8 percent of veterans from these periods who did not 
have a service-connected disability. The unemployment rate of veterans with a 
disability from these wartime periods was 6.1 percent, not statistically different 
from their counterparts with no disability (4.2 percent).

About 11 percent of veterans who served during other service periods reported a 
service-connected disability in August 2015. Neither the labor force participation 
rate nor the unemployment rate for these veterans were different from their 
counterparts without a service-connected disability.

Regardless of period of service, many veterans with a service-connected disability 
worked in the public sector. In August 2015, 36 percent of employed veterans with a 
disability worked in federal, state, or local government, compared with 20 percent 
of veterans with no disability and 13 percent of nonveterans. Among the employed, 
25 percent of veterans with a disability worked for the federal government, 
compared with 7 percent of veterans with no disability and 2 percent of nonveterans. 
(See table 8.)

Reserve and National Guard Membership

In August 2015, 35 percent of Gulf War-era veterans (August 1990 to present) were 
reported to be current or past members of the Reserve or National Guard. (Beginning 
with data for August 2015, these estimates from the veterans supplement reflect a 
change in the weighting methodology. This resulted in more veterans counted among 
Reserve or National Guard members than in past years. See the note at the end of
this news release for more information about the change in methodology.) Labor force
participation rates were not statistically different for veterans who were current
or past members of the Reserve or National Guard compared with veterans who were never 
members. Among Gulf War-era II veterans, those who were current or past members of 
the Reserve or National Guard had a lower unemployment rate than those who had 
never been members (3.5 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively). For veterans 
of Gulf War era I, unemployment rates were similar for members and nonmembers. 
(See table 9.)


    Change in the weighting methodology for August 2015 veterans supplement data

Beginning with data for August 2015, estimates from the veterans supplement reflect 
a change in the weighting methodology. The veterans supplement data in this release 
use a weight that accounts for supplement nonresponse--that is, people who completed 
the supplement are weighted to represent those who did not respond to the supplement 
at all. This methodology is consistent with how data for many other supplements to 
the Current Population Survey (CPS) are weighted.

The change in the weighting methodology resulted in only minor differences in the
number of veterans overall and by period of service. The impact of the new weighting
methodology on unemployment rates and other ratios was negligible. There was no
statistical difference in these rates as calculated under the old or new weighting
methodology. 

The biggest impact of the change in the weighting methodology was to greatly reduce
the number of people in the "did not report" category for items like the presence of a
service-connected disability, membership in the Reserve or National Guard, and location
of service for Gulf War-era II veterans. As a result, estimates of the number of veterans
in other categories for these items increased. For example, under the former weighting
methodology about 16 percent of veterans had a service-connected disability, compared
with 20 percent under the new methodology. While much lower, there are still a relatively
small number of veterans in the "did not report" categories because a small number of
people responded to some, but not all, of the questions in the supplement. The effect
of the change in the weighting methodology is shown in the comparison table below.

This change in the weighting methodology affects only the data for veterans from the August
2015 veterans supplement shown in tables 7 through 10 in this news release. The annual
averages displayed in table A and tables 1 through 6B, which are based on the monthly CPS,
are not affected. Data for nonveterans are not affected. Data from the August 2015 veterans
supplement are not strictly comparable to data from veteran supplements in prior years. 


Comparison table. Effect of the change in weighting methodology on estimates of veterans from the August 2015 
veterans supplement
[Numbers in thousands]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              |                     |                     |                     
                                              |                     |                     |                     
                                              |   New methodology   |  Former methodology |      Difference     
                                              | (supplement weight) |    (basic monthly   |                     
                                              |                     |       weight)       |                     
                 Characteristic               |-----------------------------------------------------------------
                                              | Civilian  |         | Civilian |          | Civilian  |         
                                              | noninsti- | Percent | noninsti-|  Percent | noninsti- |  Percent
                                              | tutional  | distri- | tutional |  distri- | tutional  |  distri-
                                              |  popu-    | bution  |  popu-   |  bution  |  popu-    |  bution 
                                              |  lation   |         |  lation  |          |  lation   |   (1)   
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total veterans, 18 years and over.............|   21,170  |   100.0 |   21,171 |    100.0 |     -1    |   0.0   
  With service-connected disability...........|    4,309  |    20.4 |    3,485 |     16.5 |    824    |   3.9   
    Less than 30 percent disability rating....|    1,239  |     5.9 |    1,000 |      4.7 |    239    |   1.1   
    30 to 50 percent disability rating........|    1,041  |     4.9 |      842 |      4.0 |    199    |   0.9   
    60 percent or higher disability rating....|    1,595  |     7.5 |    1,291 |      6.1 |    304    |   1.4   
    Disability rating not reported............|      434  |     2.1 |      352 |      1.7 |     82    |   0.4   
  Without service-connected disability........|   16,310  |    77.0 |   13,221 |     62.4 |  3,089    |  14.6   
  Presence of disability not reported.........|      551  |     2.6 |    4,465 |     21.1 | -3,914    | -18.5   
                                              |           |         |          |          |           |         
Total, Gulf War-era veterans..................|    7,059  |   100.0 |    7,060 |    100.0 |     -1    |   0.0   
  Current or past member of Reserve or        |           |         |          |          |           |         
    National Guard............................|    2,470  |    35.0 |    1,954 |     27.7 |    516    |   7.3   
  Never a member of Reserve or National Guard.|    4,363  |    61.8 |    3,459 |     49.0 |    904    |  12.8   
  Reserve or National Guard membership        |           |         |          |          |           |         
    not reported .............................|      226  |     3.2 |    1,647 |     23.3 | -1,421    | -20.1   
                                              |           |         |          |          |           |         
Total, Gulf War-era II veterans...............|    3,609  |   100.0 |    3,581 |    100.0 |     28    |   0.0   
  Served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both........|    1,665  |    46.1 |    1,304 |     36.4 |    361    |   9.7   
    Served in Iraq............................|    1,412  |    39.1 |    1,109 |     31.0 |    303    |   8.2   
    Served in Afghanistan.....................|      643  |    17.8 |      507 |     14.2 |    136    |   3.7   
    Served in both locations..................|      390  |    10.8 |      312 |      8.7 |     78    |   2.1   
  Served elsewhere............................|    1,944  |    53.9 |    1,508 |     42.1 |    436    |  11.8   
  Location of service not reported............|        0  |     0.0 |      769 |     21.5 |   -769    | -21.5   
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) Differences are calculated from unrounded estimates.
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.



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Last Modified Date: March 22, 2016