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2023 Veteran Unemplyment Rates Lower Than Civilian Counterparts

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released statistics on veteran unemployment, and the numbers are encouraging. Especially when compared to the unemployment numbers for non-veterans.

The DOL released figures on the March 2023 unemployment numbers on April 7, 2023, noting, “the veteran unemployment rate was 2.4%, down from the 2.5% the previous month and up from 2.3% the prior year.”

Related: Overseas Military Spouse Career Options

Veterans Versus Non-Veterans

How do the DOL numbers stack up against civilians? According to the DOL official site, the “comparable non-veteran unemployment rate” was listed as 3.5%. That’s lower than the previous month’s numbers, “down from 3.6% the previous month and 3.7% the prior year.”

Department of Labor unemployment rates are adjusted seasonally and account “for individuals aged 18 years and over in the civilian non-institutional population.”

Air Force Times reports this is the third time in over a year that job numbers have been reported in this percentage. Prior to that, unemployment rates had not fallen to these lows in four years. Part of the blame for that? The COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2020, veteran unemployment spiked to well over 10%.

How Many Veterans Were Unemployed at Survey Time?

Veterans did better than their civilian counterparts regarding March unemployment numbers.

By comparison, civilian unemployment was higher at 3.5%. But how many actual jobless veterans does the 2.4% number represent?

  • More than 200 thousand people.
  • But even among the veteran population, the unemployment numbers are subject to some fluctuations.
  • Air Force Times reports vets of Iraq and Afghanistan have higher unemployment numbers than some of their colleagues, some 2.8% compared to the overall 2.4% of veterans who did not serve in those eras.

Related: Careers at the Department of Veterans Affairs

Breaking Down the Department of Labor Veteran Unemployment Numbers

These numbers were published using a 12-month moving average using data from the Department of Labor. The numbers below are the averages from April 2022 to March 2023:

  • Women Veterans 2.8%,
  • Women Non-Veterans 3.4%,
  • Male Veterans 2.7%,
  • Male Non-Veterans 3.6%.

DOL also breaks down the numbers by disability and veteran status. From April 2022 to March 2023 the averages include:

  • Veterans with a disability 5.3%,
  • Non-Veterans with a disability 7.4%,
  • Veterans with no disability 2.4%,
  • Non-Veterans with no disability 3.4%.

Veteran Unemployment Numbers Weren’t Always This Low

The unemployment figures for veterans haven’t always reflected such low numbers; a Rand Corporation report from 2014 noted, “the unemployment rate of young military veterans ages 18-24 reached 29 percent in 2011.”

That may sound high (it is), and the same report notes that for 11 years starting with the year 2000, some veterans were “3.4 percentage points more likely to be unemployed than similarly situated younger non-veterans.”

Those numbers are tempered with the Rand Corporation report’s observation that the difference between veteran and non-veteran unemployment “falls rapidly with age and time since military separation.”

About the author

Editor-in-Chief | + posts

Editor-in-Chief Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.