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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.

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What industries do veterans work in?

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.

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.

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How many veterans live in poverty?

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%.

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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.

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Employment Situation of Veterans
American Community Survey
Point in Time Homelessness Estimates
National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics