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July 2010, Vol. 133, No. 7
Employment and earnings of recent veterans: data from the CPS
James A. Walker
James A. Walker is an economist in the Division of Labor Force Statistics, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent male veterans and male nonveterans ages 18 to 54 years had similar unemployment rates in 2009, and earnings of full-time male veterans and nonveterans were likewise similar; by contrast, the unemployment rate of recent female veterans was higher than that of female nonveterans.
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Since the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, about 1.9 million men and women have returned to civilian life after having served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. These recent veterans, also known as Gulf War-era II veterans, currently are experiencing labor market conditions at home that include high unemployment rates and competition for jobs.1 This article examines the demographic characteristics, labor force activity, and earnings of recent veterans and nonveterans.
The data presented are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of 60,000 households that provides official statistics about civilian employment and unemployment in the United States. The CPS is conducted monthly for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, the Bureau) by the U.S. Census Bureau.2 Data about veteran status (that is, whether a person is or is not a veteran) and period of service are collected each month in the CPS, and annual averages are published each year in the news release "Employment Situation of Veterans."3 The 2009 annual averages, selected 2007 and 2008 annual averages, and data from the August 2009 CPS supplement on veterans are discussed in what follows.
In the CPS, veterans are defined as men and women who previously served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and were civilians at the time of the survey.4 Members of the Reserve and National Guard are counted as veterans if, when they were surveyed, they were civilians and they responded that they had been called to active duty sometime in the past. Nonveterans are men and women who have never served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.5
This excerpt is from an article published in the July 2010 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Gulf War era II began in September 2001 and continues through the present. The designation "Gulf War era II" was developed in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Laborís Veteransí Employment and Training Service.
2 More information about the CPS is available on the BLS Web site at www.bls.gov/cps (visited July 20, 2010).
3 The 2009 news release is available on the Internet at www.bls.gov/schedule/archives/all_nr.htm#VET (visited July 20, 2010).
4 For more information about how veteran status is determined, see the section entitled "CPS questions that determine veteran status" in the appendix.
5 All references to the U.S. population in this article are to the civilian noninstitutional population. Therefore, active-duty members of the military, as well as individuals residing in places such as prisons, hospitals, and mental institutions, are excluded.
Current Population Survey
Employment characteristics of Gulf War-era II veterans in 2006: a visual essay.—May 2008.
Are male veterans at greater risk for nonemployment than nonveterans?—Dec. 2007.
Vietnam-era cohort: employment and earnings.—June 1992.
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