Stephanie Ferguson
Director, Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Isabella Lucy
Graphic Designer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Published

December 22, 2022

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Right now, there are many open jobs and too few people to fill them. As a result, businesses can’t grow, compete, and thrive. The U.S. Chamber and Chamber Foundation's America Works initiative is mobilizing business and government to swiftly address the crisis.

One critical talent pool employers should consider recruiting from the military community. This page will dive into the current data behind veteran and military spouse employment and the benefits this community can bring to businesses.

The U.S. military community — active-duty service members, veterans, and military spouses — represent a vast, diverse, and talented pool of individuals. While active-duty service members are not considered to be part of the civilian labor force, veterans are.

  • 1.3M
    Active duty military personnel
  • 16.5M
    Military veterans

Veterans have highly adaptable and desirable skills learned in the military—and are a highly educated talent pool. More than a third of all veterans have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and less than 5% are lacking a high school diploma. The combination of military training, on-the-ground experience, and formal education make veterans desirable, quality job candidates.

As they bring highly valuable skills to the workplace, veterans tend to face lower rates of unemployment. However, veterans participate in the labor force at significantly lower rates than non-veterans. Interestingly, labor force participation for female veterans is considerably higher than their male counterparts.

However, female veterans faced higher rates of unemployment than both non-veterans and their male counterparts during low unemployment periods (2004 – 2007) and following the 2010 unemployment rate spike.

Government is the most popular industry for veterans

The skills learned in the military go hand in hand with the skills that are required in the workforce. A Northeastern University article outlined the top transferable skills for labor market entrants who recently left the military – leadership, financial responsibility, effective communication, and technical skills occupying the top spots.

Most veterans work in government, followed by manufacturing and professional and business services. Veterans are least likely to work in the wholesale trade, information, agriculture, and mining industries.

When it comes to occupations, more than 40% of all veterans work in a management, professional, and related occupations, followed by 17.5% who work in a production, transportation, and material moving occupation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals who are employed in the management, professional, and related occupation group experience the highest median annual wage of all major occupational groups. In May 2021, that median annual income was $102,450, more than twice the median annual wage for all occupations, $45,760.

A diverse and skilled talent pool

Prioritizing veteran and military spouse hiring can help employers achieve diversity and inclusion goals. Although, the vast majority of active-duty personnel and veterans are male, military spouses also make up an overlooked talent pool—and are far too often unemployed.

In 2019, more than half of military spouses were unemployed despite being highly educated. On average, military spouses move once every three years, directly contributing to the right unemployment rates these individuals, overwhelmingly women, typically face.

Considering the increased capabilities and popularity of remote work, employers should consider recruiting military spouses. This could not only help fill the millions of open jobs currently available, but also reduce military spouse unemployment costs, currently estimated at $1 billion annually.

In addition to the skills and talents military veterans can bring to a company, hiring veterans can also help your business earn tax credits. Learn more at Military.com.

Hire from the Military Community

Our enlisted forces and veterans serve our country with the highest commitment. Hiring our Heroes, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation program, is committed to serving the military community by organizing hiring events, fellowship programs, education and networking, and resources for military spouses.

Read More from Hiring Our Heroes

About the authors

Stephanie Ferguson

Director, Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Isabella Lucy

Graphic Designer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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