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The march toward employment

The jobs picture for veterans.


An Accenture survey shows that while veterans enjoy generally lower unemployment rates than civilians, younger vets are struggling to find work.

Veterans face a host of challenges, especially in the job market after their service. Young veterans in particular are facing difficulties finding jobs after they’ve completed their military service. National data show that vets 25 and younger struggle with higher unemployment rates than non-veterans. And many of these people have been looking for work for more than a year.

An Accenture survey looked at a broad swath of employed and unemployed veterans across the U.S. According to the findings, employed vets are more likely to have been out of the military six to 10 years, while the largest percentage of unemployed veterans left the military within the last five years. Unemployed vets are also more likely to have served in the Army. Of vets deployed overseas, those who served in Iraq, Afghanistan or both are more likely to still be unemployed than those who served elsewhere.


Accenture conducted its survey in October 2013 among 1,000 employed and unemployed veterans to gain a better understanding of what it’s like transitioning from military to civilian employment. We found that while older vets are largely enjoying lower unemployment rates and larger salaries, younger vets are struggling though a still-sluggish economy to find work.

The quantitative survey polled veterans ages 18 and older who separated from the military within the past 15 years. Accenture interviewed 600 currently employed and 400 currently unemployed veterans to assess their opinions and attitudes toward their transition from the military to the civilian workforce. The survey included veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and the National Guard, and included a mix of officers and enlisted personnel.

Key Findings

While veterans generally have a lower unemployment rate than most citizens, post-9/11 vets and vets under 25 are struggling to find work. Overall, the unemployment rate for vets is slightly lower than for civilians by about .3 percent, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Vets have a 7 percent employment rate while the general population unemployment rate is 7.3 percent. The .3 percent gap, in fact, is historically low. Vet unemployment rates have long been notably lower than non-vet rates, by as much as nearly 2 percent.

Earning potential for vets is also higher. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, male veterans earn roughly 11 percent more than their civilian counterparts, and female veterans earn about 19 percent more than non-veterans. In real money terms, while the median annual salary for male non-veterans is $46,300, male veterans earn $51,600 on average per year. And while female non-veterans earn an average annual salary of $36,900, female veterans earn $43,900 per year.


There are a few important lessons unemployed vets can take away from their employed counterparts. Key among them are that continuing education, classes or training programs make vets more attractive to employers, combined with a military background. The data show that employed veterans are 15 percent more likely to have taken additional classes since leaving the military than unemployed vets.

Networking is also an important and effective tool in job hunting. In fact, it is the most fruitful of all job search resources according to employed veterans, so unemployed veterans should prioritize it above other resources. Using personal networks ranks first among 12 potential job searching resources for employed veterans, compared to seventh of 12 among the same set for unemployed veterans.


Get a quick read on veteran employment prospects.


Helping veterans and their spouses find employment and get back on their feet

Accenture conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. veterans who separated from the military within the past 15 years, ages 18 and older, and some of the results were surprising. While the unemployment rate for most veterans is lower than it is for civilians, younger vets—particularly those who’ve served after 9/11—are experiencing difficulties in the job market. Download a quick snapshot to see some highlights form the study.


Read a comprehensive study on how veterans are faring in the job market.


Since 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has helped more than 21,000 veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment through a program called Hiring Our Heroes. Accenture is pleased to support this important endeavor, and as a proud participant facilitated 100 employment workshops in 2013 alone, with many more ongoing.

Overall, Hiring Our Heroes has hosted more than 650 hiring fairs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The program is intended to secure commitments from businesses of all sizes to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. See some highlights from a Hiring Our Heroes event that took place in 2013.


Read a comprehensive study on how veterans are faring in the job market

Get a quick read on veteran employment prospects