Recent data highlights an economic divergence between American veterans and the overall population. Their standard of living includes higher median incomes, lower unemployment rates, and a reduced likelihood of poverty.
How many veterans are unemployed?
In 2022, 2.8% of veterans, approximately 250,000, were unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The veteran population had a lower unemployment rate than non-veterans (3.6%).
BLS reports that older and disabled veterans experience higher unemployment than the total veteran population. Veterans with a service-related disability had a slightly higher unemployment rate (3.6%) than all veterans but the same rate as the total non-veteran population.
Meanwhile, 40% of unemployed veterans in 2022 were 55 or older.
Over 8.5 million veterans were employed in the civilian labor force in 2022, with the largest proportion (22.8%) working in government. Veterans also often find employment in manufacturing (12% of veterans), and professional and business services (11%), which includes consulting, management, and accounting jobs. Younger veterans are more likely than older veterans to work in government. Older veterans are more likely to be self-employed.
What is the median income for veterans?
On average, employed veterans earn more than non-veterans. The Census Bureau reports that veterans’ median 2022 income was $50,476, while the median income of adult civilians was $39,185.
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How many veterans have a disability?
More than 4.8 million veterans, or 30.6%, reported having at least one disability in 2022. The proportion of veterans with disabilities has risen since the late 2000s — in 2010, 25.5% of veterans reported having a disability. Veterans are nearly twice as affected by disabilities than the general public, 16% of which were disabled.
Veterans are less likely than the general 18+ population to live below the poverty line. The Census Bureau estimates that 7.5% of veterans in 2022 (approximately 1.2 million) reported income below the poverty level. The poverty rate for the entire US civilian population over age 18 is 11.6%.
Poverty comes in many forms — for example, people who live near the poverty line spend a larger share of their income on housing. However, fewer veterans face homelessness now than in years past, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2022, the department estimated 33,139 homeless veterans, down 55.3% from 2010.