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Pandemic's Effect on Veteran Employment

11/8/2021 9:00:00 AM

Tim O'Neill

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released national level data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) revealing the impact the COVID-19 recession had on veterans in the labor market. Highlights from the annual 2020 data include:

  • Unemployment rates for both male and female veterans increased in 2020, with the male unemployment rate at 6.5% and the female unemployment rate at 6.7%. Such rates were 3.0% for male veterans and 3.7% for female veterans in 2019.
  • The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty at any time since September 2001 – or Gulf War-era veterans – was higher at 7.3%. Zooming in, the unemployment rate for younger veterans (18 to 24 years) was significantly higher at 14.6%.
  • The unemployment rate for veterans varied across the country, ranging from 2.7% in Nebraska to 11.3% in Michigan.
  • In Minnesota, the unemployment rate for veterans rose from 4.9% in 2019 to 8.3% in 2020. This represented an increase in the number of unemployed veterans from approximately 7,000 to 12,000.
  • Of the 581,000 unemployed veterans across the country in 2020, over half (54%) were between the ages of 25 and 54.
  • Just over one-quarter (26%) of veterans nationally had a service-connected disability in 2020.

As the data from the CPS reveals, the unemployment rate for veterans was higher in Minnesota during annual 2020 (8.5%) than it was at the national level (6.5%). The data also reveals that the unemployment rate for veterans in Minnesota was higher than it was for nonveterans (5.6%) in the state in 2020.

Figure 1 highlights the industries that veterans and nonveterans worked in during 2020. This also reveals the share of veterans and nonveterans who were self-employed during the year. As Figure 1 shows, over one-in-five veterans (22.9%) worked in government. Not surprisingly, this is a much higher share than the 13.6% of nonveterans who worked in government at that time. Other industries that employed significantly higher shares of the respective veteran workforce to the nonveteran workforce included Manufacturing and Transportation & Warehousing. On the other hand, industries that employed significantly lower shares of veterans to their nonveteran counterparts included Education & Health Services, Retail Trade, Financial Activities, Leisure & Hospitality, and Other Services (Figure 1).

National Employment Share by Industry

If you're a veteran in Minnesota looking to find work in Government, Manufacturing, Transportation & Warehousing, or any other industry sector, the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has the resources to help with your career search on the CareerForce Veterans Employment resources page. Veterans should also keep an eye out for career fairs and hiring events on the CareerForce website.

For More Information

Contact Tim O'Neill, Labor Market Analyst.

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