Veterans in the Workforce Statistics: Employment Rate, Demographics, and Salary in 2024

Finding employment after service can be challenging for both veterans who served in the military. Transitioning from military work and adapting to civilian life can be a long process, during which a lot of veterans remain unemployed.

To show you the current veteran employment rates, we have compiled a set of the latest statistics regarding veterans in the workforce. You will also learn about veteran demographics and find out more about veteran average salary, as well as what are some of the difficulties veterans face when seeking employment.

Top Veterans in the Workforce Statistics: Editor’s Choice

  • About 44% of veterans in the 11 to 44 age group remained unemployed for less than five weeks.
  • Only 11.4% of American veterans in the 11 to 44 age group were unemployed in January 2022.
  • On average, veteran women earn $16,000 less than veteran men.
  • The average annual veteran salary in 2022 is $57,231.
  • In 2022, veterans earn $67,771 on average in San Mateo, CA.
  • Employment is the most difficult transitioning process for 55% of veterans.
  • The veteran unemployment rate increased between December 2021 and January 2022 from 3.2% to 3.8%.
  • About 6.1% of unemployed veterans are white, compared to 7.2% of unemployed nonveterans.
  • Roughly 1.5 million veterans live in California.
  • Alaska has the highest concentration of veterans, and around 9,044 veterans for every 100,000 citizens live in Alaska.
  • In March 2021, there was 1,134,548 enlisted personnel in the military and Coast Guard.
  • Roughly 20% of employers rank experience as the most relevant factor when hiring veterans.


General Veteran Statistics and Employment Rate

The unemployment rate of veterans gradually decreased over the last several years. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of employees lost their jobs and veterans were no exception.

The following statistics will show you the current unemployment rate of veterans and how it changed over the last few years. At the same time, we also included a few statistics to show you the occupations and industries that employ the biggest percentage of veterans.

1. In 2020, veterans represented 5.6% of the US labor force.

Based on the veterans statistics by the US Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in 2020 was 6.5% for veterans, which was slightly lower than the 8% it was for civilians. Namely, in 2020, the US labor force was comprised of  8,918,500 veterans and 149,742,000 nonveterans.

2. There were 7,826,000 male veterans and 1,093,000 female veterans in the labor force in 2020.

The number of veterans in 2020 was significantly lower than it was two decades ago. Based on the veteran employment statistics, there were 13,531,000 male veterans and 1,034,000 female veterans in the labor force in 2000.

Between 2000 and 2020, a lot of veterans retired so the number of veterans in the labor force dropped by more than 33%.

3. Only 5% of veterans aged between 18 and 24 were unemployed in 2020.

However, older generations of veterans find it much more difficult to find employment. In fact, 54% of unemployed veterans aged 25 to 54, and 41% of all unemployed veterans in the US were 55 or older.

4. Veteran unemployment rate by state statistics show 11% of veterans in the state of Michigan were unemployed in 2020.

Unemployment rates vary from one country to another. Michigan had the highest percentage of unemployed veterans in 2020, followed by Arizona with 9.6%, Nevada with 9.4%, and Ohio with 9.3%. In contrast, the lowest unemployment veteran rate was in Nebraska with 2.7%, Colorado with 3.5%, and Georgia with 3.8%.

5. The number of unemployed veterans increased in January 2022 from 3.2% to 3.8%.

Even though the veteran unemployment rate for 2022 increased between December 2021 and January 2022, the number was still smaller than the average annual unemployment rate for all veterans in 2021, which was 4.4%.

The average unemployment rate for most veteran groups was higher in January 2022 than compared to the 2021 annual average. However, only 1.2% of Gulf War I Era veterans were unemployed in January 2021, which is significantly less than the 2021 annual average of 3.5%.

6. Roughly 44% of veterans aged between 18 and 44 were unemployed for less than five weeks.

On the other side of the spectrum, veteran statistics for 2022 show that more than half of veterans have failed to find employment in longer than five weeks. Generally speaking, this might be good news for veterans without jobs, considering the fact that the average length of unemployment is 22 weeks, while the median is 8.2 weeks.

7. About 11.4% of veterans aged between 18 and 24 were unemployed in January 2022.

Even though the average unemployment rate for the aforementioned age group decreased by 3.1% from the month before, it is still significantly higher than it was the year before. Namely, the unemployed veterans statistics by Syracuse University show the average annual unemployment rate for veterans in the 18 to 24 age group was only 8.7% in 2021.

Between December 2021 and January 2022, the unemployment rate for the 35 to 44 age group also decreased, from 3.2% to 2.2%.

Veterans in the Workforce Statistics-unemployment rate

8. Around 11% of all veterans work in the transportation and material moving occupations compared to 7% of nonveterans.

Out of ten major occupation groups, four have a higher percentage of veterans and nonveterans than average. Veterans employment statistics show that 20% of employees in the management, business, and financial occupations are veterans, while only 17% are nonveterans.

9. Approximately 7% of veterans work in the installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.

As far as nonveterans are concerned, only 3% of nonveterans work in the installation, maintenance, and repair occupations. Based on the same data, around 7% of veterans works in the production line of work, while the number is only 5% when it comes to nonveterans.

10. Veterans in the workforce statistics show 33% of female veterans work in professional and related occupations.

In contrast, only 19% of men veterans work in the same field. The concentration of female veterans is also higher in the office and administrative support occupations. Based on the latest data available, 16% of employees in this occupation are female veterans, while only 6% of them are male veterans.

However, in the transportation and material moving occupations, 13% of male employees are male veterans, while only 4% of them are female veterans.


Average Salary of Veterans

Apart from the employment rate, the pandemic also had an adverse effect on the average veteran salary. The following group of statistics will show you what veterans earned per annum between 2019 and 2022.

In addition, you will also learn more about the best-paying positions for veterans, and find out about the cities where the average annual veteran salary is the highest.

11. In 2019, veterans earned an annual average salary of $65,700.

The same year, an average American income was roughly $54,000 per annum, meaning that veterans were well above the average US salary. Veterans statistics show that veterans in their 50s averaged $77,600 annually, while the veterans in their 20s earned $38,700 on average.

12. The highest paying area for veterans in 2019 was Washington, D.C., with an average salary of $102,900.

Other high-paying areas included Connecticut with $101,000 and New Jersey with $98,000. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the lowest-paying areas for veterans in 2019 were Arkansas with $48,200, Virginia with $48,700, and Wyoming with $49,000.

13. Facts about veterans and their salary show veteran men earned around $16,000 more than veteran women in 2019.

However, a pay gap exists in civilian sectors as well, and civilian men earned $18,000 more than civilian women. Based on veterans in workforce statistics from 2019, veteran men earned an average salary of $67,306, just slightly above civilian men who earned $61,909 on average.

When it comes to women, veteran women earned $51,803 per annum while civilian women averaged a wage of $43,607.

14. The US veterans statistics show American veterans averaged an annual salary of $65,536 in 2020.

Even though veterans earned less on average than they did in 2019, they were still making more than civilians who made $52,851 on average. In fact, this trend has been ongoing for more than two decades. In 2000, veterans earned $39,026 on average, while civilians made $29,063. Similarly, in 2010, veterans earned $51,485, with civilians making $41,031 on average.

15. The average veteran annual salary dropped to $57,231 in 2022.

Based on the latest statistics on veterans, veterans earn $1,101 a week or rather $4,769 a month. The salary varies from $18,000 to as much as $128,000. However, only 1% of veterans work the highest paying jobs for veterans and earn between $118,000 to $128,000. Most veterans (23%) earn between $28,000 and $37,999, while 22% of them earn between $38,000 to $47,999.

Veterans in the Workforce Statistics-veteran salaries

16. Veterans in San Mateo, CA, earn $67,771 on average in 2022.

San Mateo is the best-paying city for veterans when it comes to an average veteran salary. According to the latest veterans stats about salary from ZipRecruiter, other cities with high average veteran wages include Juneau, AK, with $66,416, Boston, MA, with $66,2312, Santa Monica, CA, with $65,456, and Quincy, MA, with $65,453.

17. Veterans at the assistant veteran military position earn an annual salary of $67,668.

In fact, veterans at this position earn around 18.2% more than the average veteran salary. Other high-paying jobs include director military veteran with $63,674, veterans program with $63,438, military spouse remote with $56,527, and recruit military with $54,965.


Veterans Demographics

The term veteran includes anyone who has served in the active service, be it naval, military, or air service. Currently, the US has millions of veterans of different ethnic and age groups.

The following demographics will tell you more about the unemployment rate of veterans based on their ethnicity and age. In addition, we also included a few statistics to show you where most of the veterans live and which states have the highest concentration of veterans per citizen.

18. Approximately 6.1% of unemployed veterans and 7.2% of unemployed nonveterans are white.

The latest veterans in the workforce statistics indicate that the unemployment rate varies between different races and ethnic groups. Around 7.5% of veterans and 11.5% nonveterans are Black or African American.

In addition, 7.4% of unemployed veterans and 10.4% nonveterans are Hispanic or Latino. Asian veterans have the lowest unemployment rate with only 5.1%, while 8.7% of unemployed nonveterans are Asian.

19. The unemployment rate for veterans aged 18 or older was 11.9% in April 2020.

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 had major effects on the US labor force, and veterans were no exception. Veterans statistics show that the unemployment rate was at its highest in April 2020. However, by September 2021, it dropped down to 3.9%, which was just 0.6% higher than the pre-pandemic unemployment rate in February 2020 of 3.3%.

20. California has 1,574,531 veterans.

In fact, California has the highest number of veterans, and other states with the most veterans include Texas with 1,453,450, Florida with $1,440,338, and Pennsylvania with 759,474 veterans. States with the lowest number of veterans are Vermont with 36,988, Wyoming with 44,999, and North Dakota with 46,067.

21. Number of veterans by state data shows Alaska has the highest concentration of veterans, with 9,044 veterans per 100,000 citizens.

Even though California has the most veterans, Alaska is the state with the most veterans per 100,000 citizens. In addition to Alaska, other states with the highest concentration of veterans include Virginia with 7,843, Montana with 7,808, and Wyoming with 7,729 veterans per 100,000 citizens. Utah has the lowest concentration of veterans, with only 3,581 veterans per 100,000 citizens.

number of veterans by state 2022

22. Military employment statistics show there are 1,134,548 enlisted personnel in various branches of the military and Coast Guard.

Out of those, 386,749 are enlisted in the Army, 288,171 in the Navy, 268,165 in the Air Force, and 159,646 in the Marine Corps. The Coast Guard has the least enlisted personnel with 31,817. When it comes to active-duty officer personnel, 242,721 were working in the various branches of the military in March 2021.


Interesting Facts About Veterans

As one of the largest forces in the world, the US has millions of active military personnel, and the number only seems to be increasing. However, once military individuals get discharged or released from active duty, they face numerous challenges when transitioning back to civilian life, especially those with a service-connected disability.

The following statistics will tell you more about what are some of the challenges veterans face, what do recruiters look for when hiring veterans, and the latest veteran disability rates.

23. The number of Gulf War-era II veterans increased to 7.3% in 2020.

Gulf War-era II veterans represent veterans who served on active duty in the US Armed Forces since September 2001. Around 91% of Gulf War-era II vets who reported a service-connected disability rating of 30% were employed, compared to 63.6% of those who reported a service-connected disability rating of 60% or higher.

24. In August 2020, around 40% of Gulf War-era II veterans had a service-connected disability.

The latest disabled veteran statistics from the US Bureau of Labor show that this is significantly higher than the average numbers, as only 26% of all veterans reported having a service-connected disability.

Out of all veterans with a service-connected disability, approximately 31% worked in the public sector. In contrast, only 19% of veterans with no disability and 14% of nonveterans worked in the same occupation.

25. Around 55% of veterans report employment is the most difficult transition challenge.

Despite that, 59% of employers reported that veterans performed much better or just better than their nonveteran peers. In addition, veterans in the workforce statistics by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that only 37.5% of employers said veterans performed about the same compared to their civilian peers.

26. Around 20% of employers rank experience as the main factor for hiring veterans.

Apart from experience, employers also put a lot of value on perseverance and a good work ethic, both of which are well-known traits for military personnel. Additionally, about 17% of employers reported leadership as one of the top three ranking factors for new hires.

27. A high number of veterans in the US (55%) felt HR and recruiters failed to understand their experience.

Landing a job is one of the most difficult transitioning aspects for any veteran. Unfortunately, HR recruiters don’t seem to make things easier for the veterans since more than half of veterans felt like recruiters didn’t manage to assess their work experience or qualifications correctly.

To make matters worse, around 63% of veterans were disappointed with the lack of support they got or rather didn’t get when looking for a job.


Veterans in the Workforce Statistics: The Takeaway

For a lot of veterans, transitioning from active service and finding new employment is one of the most difficult processes. However, the good news is that the unemployment rate of veterans is gradually decreasing. Even though the unemployment rate spiked during the pandemic, as it was the case all over the globe, the unemployment rate of veterans is slowly nearing its pre-pandemic rate.

In fact, nowadays, the average unemployment rate of veterans is lower than it is of nonveterans. At the same time, veterans average higher annual wages than their nonveteran counterparts and are often sought-after by employers who value experience, perseverance, a good work ethic, and strong leadership skills, all of which are traits veterans are well-known for.


Frequently Asked Questions

How much do veterans make a year?

According to ZipRecruiter, veterans in 2022 earn an average salary of $57,231. While the average veteran salary varies between $18,000 and $128,000, most veterans earn between $28,000 and $37,399.

Even though an average salary of $57,213 is higher than the average salary nonveterans make, the average annual veteran wage has dropped significantly in the past few years. Namely, in 2019, veterans earned an average salary of $67,306, while the average veteran salary in 2020 was $65,536.

Who employs the most veterans?

According to Statista, around 22.9% of veterans are employed by the government. In addition, 12.2% works in manufacturing, 11.4% in professional and business services, 8.7% in education and health services, and 7.8% in retail trade.

As far as wages go, top veteran employers are mostly companies that have contracts with the Department of Defense. Some of the best employers for military veterans are companies like the Science Applications International Corporation, Booz, Allen and Hamilton, Northrop Grumman Corporation, L-3 Communications, and the United States Government – Department of Defense.

How many veterans are in the civilian workforce?

Based on the latest data available, there were 158.6 million civilians in the workforce in 2020. Out of that number, roughly 8.9 million (5.6%) were veterans. As far as 2022 goes, the latest projections indicate that there are around 163.5 million workers in the US labor force in 2022 and that only 338,000 veterans ages 18 and over were unemployed.

Are veterans more likely to be unemployed?

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterans are not more likely to be unemployed. Namely, in January 2022, the unemployment rate for veterans was 3.8%, which is slightly less than the nationwide unemployment rate of 4%.

However, numerous veterans find transitioning from military life to employment in the civilian workforce challenging, and many of them end up working jobs that do not match their qualifications.

How many unemployed veterans are there in 2022?

The unemployment rate for veterans increased from 3.2% in December 2021 to 3.8% in January 2022. At the same time, the percentage of unemployed post 9/11 veterans increased from 4.3% to 5.2%. Currently, there are 338,000 unemployed veterans who are 18 years old or older, out of which 44% are unemployed for less than five weeks.

How many veterans are disabled in 2022?

Based on the latest data available, around four million veterans reported some form of a service-connected disability. Approximately 1.1 million veterans reported having a 10% to 20% service-connected disability, while 665,207 reported having a 30% to 40% disability rating.

Most veterans, 1.6 million of them, reported having a disability rating of 70% or higher, and 574,171 had a disability rating of 50% to 60%.

How many veterans are there in the US?

Based on the latest veterans in the workforce statistics, there are around 19 million veterans in the US. This represents nearly 10% of the total US adult population. Currently, around 89% of veterans are men. However, the latest projection models indicate that the share of women veterans is expected to increase from 11% to 18% by 2046.


Hill and Ponton, Society for Human Resource Management, Syracuse University, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor Blog, World Population Review, ZipRecruiter