Employment among Oregon’s Veterans

by Christian Kaylor

November 3, 2021

In 2019, the unemployment rate for veterans in Oregon was 4.5%, according to the American Community Survey. Overall, Oregon’s unemployment rate was 4.8% in 2019. Across the U.S., veterans had a lower unemployment rate of 3.7%.

About 264,000 veterans lived in Oregon in 2019. Among veterans 18 to 64, 75% were in the labor force, slightly less than the 77% labor force participation rate among non-veterans. This may be because veterans tend to be relatively older. According to the American Community Survey, more than half of Oregon’s veterans were age 65 years or older and served in the military at least four decades ago: Vietnam War (99,655 veterans), Korean War (17,278), and World War II (6,694). Gulf-War I and II veterans totaled 93,846.

In 2019, Oregon’s veterans earned a higher median income ($41,693) than nonveterans ($32,134). Veterans earn a higher income despite being less likely to have a college degree. Among Oregon veterans ages 25 years and older, 29% have a four year degree or better, compared with 35% of nonveterans. Alternatively, about 4% of veterans don’t have a high school diploma, while 9% of nonveterans don’t have a high school diploma.

Female veterans, who represented 9% of Oregon’s veterans, earned a median income of $37,002, less than male veterans’ median of $42,213, but higher than female nonveterans’ income of $27,177.
Veterans are more likely to have a disability, but less likely to be in poverty than the general population. Among veterans of working age, more than 8% live below the poverty level, noticeably below the 12% poverty rate among non-veterans. Of the Oregon veterans living in poverty more than half report having a disability. Among working age veterans living above the poverty line only 20% have a disability. Only 7% of Oregon veterans are under age 35, compared to 30% of non-veterans. The older age profile of veterans may explain most of the higher income and higher disability rates among veterans.
In 2020, the US Census Bureau launched Veterans Employment Outcomes, an online tool for examining labor market outcomes for recently discharged Army veterans. Tabulated by military specialization, service characteristics, employer industry and demographics, the interactive tool allows for comparing veteran wages across different factors. The tool can be accessed at https://lehd.ces.census.gov/applications/veo

More information about veterans is available in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Employment Situation of Veterans”.

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