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By the Numbers: Veterans Unemployment Continues Downward Trend

A veteran stands in a trainyard.
Veterans unemployment edged down in 2016.


The jobless rate for all veterans edged down to 4.3 percent in 2016 from 4.6 percent in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ recently released annual Employment Situation for Veterans. This continues a downward trend from the peak of the recession in 2011, and brings the veteran unemployment rate near pre-recession levels.

Some highlights from the 2016 report include:

  • Unemployment for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 edged down to 5.1 percent in 2016.
  • In 2016, the annual average unemployment rate for women veterans was not significantly different from all male veterans or all nonveterans of either gender. This makes the fourth consecutive year that the unemployment rates of women veterans was not statistically different from that of women nonveterans. 
  • The unemployment rate for male veterans (4.2 percent) edged down over the year, and the rate for female veterans (5.0 percent) changed little.
  • Among the 453,000 unemployed veterans in 2016, 60 percent were age 45 and over, 36 percent were 25 to 44, and 4 percent were 18 to 24.
  • Veterans with a service-connected disability had an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent in August 2016, about the same as veterans with no disability (4.7 percent).
  • As of August 2016, nearly 1 in 3 employed veterans with a service-connected disability worked in the public sector, compared to about 1 in 5 veterans with no disability.
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate of veterans varied across the country, ranging from 1.8 percent in Indiana to 7.6 percent in Washington, D.C.

Read the full report here

There are nearly 21 million veterans living in the United States. Of those, more than 450,000 were unemployed and seeking a job. While the unemployment rate for veterans may be low in an economic sense, as long as any veteran is struggling to find a job, there is more work to be done.

Help our veterans find jobs and employment resources by directing them to one of our 2,400 American Job Centers across the nation, or our online resource center at


Luke Murren is a data analyst for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. Follow VETS on Twitter as @VETS_DOL.



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Fake news- I'm just as unemployed as I was a year ago. Companies say they want veterans but they want them for minimum wage. Civilians have no clue how talented retired military people really are so they don't hire us.

In reply to by John A. Hacket… (not verified)

I agree, retired military are very smart and talented people. I hope you find a job soon.

In reply to by John A. Hacket… (not verified)


Your statement is absolutely not true. I employ you to look inside as that is usually where the issue with not being able to find a job. For example, your attitude with this post. In my experience, many (Not all) prior service either have a "You owe me" attitude and expect special treatment, or the Veteran feels they are too good for that type of work and "hold out" for something that they feel they are worth... The fact is, like Joyce said, you need to get your foot in the door and show your worth. If you are worth it, promotions will come, if not, then take it upon yourself to find another job and give it another try.

The company that I work for does not pay anyone under $10 per hour. We are ALWAYS looking for new Employees and we would welcome the opportunity to hire Veterans and Disabled Veterans, but truthfully, it has been very hard finding a good source that will assist us, so we basically wait for Veterans to apply to our ads.

Anyway, good luck to you and thank you for your service.

In reply to by Raymond Borger (not verified)

EMPLOYERS always ask did you Serve? Attach your DD-214. ON my DD-214 it states in 3 location on form the word "Disabled" . EMPLOYERS are worried about things like loss time, workers Comp claims, having to make expensive changes to accommodate a disable person, and last notice PTSD! employers talk a good game but please trust me when I say there comes a time when you would too get tired of resume modifications, going for interviews, hearing nothing, and hitting a wall at every turn. Out of several Hundred of application when do I have to move away from those that help me with life. ??

In reply to by John A. Hacket… (not verified)

John, we encourage all veteran job seekers (and employers looking to hire veterans) to go to as an easy, direct way to connect with services designed just for you. When you go to the site, you can click on “Find A Job” and it will take you to our American Job Center locator tool. There are over 2,400 centers throughout the United States, with specially trained staff for veterans. Those local veteran representatives' phone numbers are listed and you can connect directly. We also have added each state’s veteran assistance page to If you need assistance after that, you can drop us a note directly at

John Hackett: I;m wondering where are you and what type of position are you seeking? Our company has hired many vets at just above min. We also hire BA's at a low wage until they prove themselves. They are most likely promoted very quickly. Sometimes you have to start and show your capabilities if you have no experience in the field; sometimes even if you do. We've had some instances with our vets not taking direction well if they've just recently left the military. These don't last long. I don't know why or if we are doing something to facilitate that attitude. They really must be able to follow directions and sometimes it comes from someone they don't feel is as competent as they are. In general, they are frustrated with the lack of concrete steps to be promoted, trouble coming to work on time and everyday. Referring more to young vets that are just released from service. One of our super star hires recently is a retired marine in logistics. He is great. We'd love to get more of these. I'm sorry you're frustrated. Keep applying and don't give up. My son is a vet and he went through some of theses things as well so I'm a civilian but have some knowledge of the struggles and very supportive of hiring vets.

In reply to by Joyce Abell (not verified)

Joyce, your statement is very accurate.

"We've had some instances with our vets not taking direction well if they've just recently left the military. These don't last long. I don't know why or if we are doing something to facilitate that attitude."
-You most likely are not doing anything wrong, there is a lot going on with a recently exiting Vet that is beyond any Civilian employer's control

"In general, they are frustrated with the lack of concrete steps to be promoted"
- Absolutely, the entire career of a Military person is based on accomplishing tasks/training which builds up to promotion. Prior service do not understand the gridlock that most employers have whereas in Service, promotions are based over all companies in the branch that they serve, not just the company.

"trouble coming to work on time and everyday. Referring more to young vets that are just released from service."
-I'm not sure what the issue is here, most Serviceman and woman have a basic understanding of "The right place, at the right time, in the right uniform".

One of the issues that I have seen first hand is Vets that feel the world owes them something and they expect to be treated differently and have special privileges (Such as arriving when they feel). Not all, but some.

@John...I would strongly encourage you to seek out your local Career Center and especially the WIOA Career Advisors.
We work with veterans and have greatly impacted futures because of services we are able to provide.
Thank you for your service John...
Semper Fi, USMC