Post-9/11 veterans succeed in U.S. job market

A recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that post-9/11 veterans are enjoying well-deserved success in the American job market.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Census Bureau celebrated Veterans Day 2020 by issuing a report highlighting the success of post-9/11 veterans in the U.S. job market.

The study – authored by Clayton Gumber and Jonathan Vespa of the American Community Survey (ACS) – focused on approximately 3 million veterans in the 18 to 54 age group who volunteered to serve in the armed forces following the Al-Qaeda terror attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

The ranks of those veterans include about 2.5 million men and 526,000 women. Their non-veteran peers numbered about 148 million, nearly evenly divided between men and women.

Gumber and Vespa found that, unlike veterans from the previous Vietnam and Gulf War eras, post-9/11 veterans enjoyed higher rates of success in the civilian job market after leaving the military than their non-veteran peers.

Using data from their own 2018 Occupational Code List and from the ACS compiled from 2014 to 2018, the Census analysts found that about 80 percent of post-9/11 veterans were employed compared to 75 percent of their civilian peers.

Of those 2.4 million employed veterans, about 81 percent worked in year-round, full-time jobs. By comparison, only about 71 percent of their non-veteran peers enjoyed similar, steady employment.

Post-9/11 veterans were also more than twice as likely to be employed in federal, state or local government positions, thanks to veteran- preference hiring practices. A third of post-9/11 vets (about 10 million) are filling such lucrative roles, compared to only 12.4 percent of their non-veteran peers.

Given the aforementioned statistics, Gumber and Vespa suggest that it is hardly surprising that post-9/11 veterans out-earn their civilian peers.

They found that the median earnings for a post-9/11 veteran with at least some college credits is nearly $11,000 more a year than for a non-veteran peer ($46,000 annually compared to $35,000). But a veteran with only a high-school diploma still enjoyed about an $8,000 earnings advantage over a civilian with a similar educational background.

Of the slightly more than 200,000 post-9/11 veterans that Gumber and Vespa identified as being either unemployed or out of the labor force, about half were found to have a disability related to their military service.

The Census study attributed some portion of post-9/11 veterans’ success in the civilian job market to their military training. According to a 2019 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one quarters of recent enlisted service members received valuable training in electronic, electrical or mechanical equipment repair. An additional 13 percent of enlisted members and 21 percent of officers left the service with engineering, science or technical skills.

Many post-9/11 veterans also had an advantage over their non-veteran peers in terms of post-secondary educational attainment. More than half of those veterans had earned at least some college credits. Moreover, about 17 percent of male veterans and 28 percent of female veterans held a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Finally, Gumber and Vespa concluded that post-9/11 veterans were fortunate to face job markets that were both very different and more welcoming than those experienced by veterans of the Vietnam or Gulf War eras when they returned to civilian life.

The American Community Survey is a demographics survey program conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that analyzes information gathered from the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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