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  • The March Toward Employment A Look at the Jobs Picture for Veterans

    Accenture Federal Services

  • Introduction No Easy Road

    Accenture conducted a survey in October 2013 among 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 good news is there are a number of government and private programs aimed at providing training and jobs for vets—the GI Bill, disability aid and tax credits for private employers who hire

    veterans, to name a few. Accenture offers vets a number of resources, including Military Career Coach, an online tool to help veterans translate their skills to the civilian workforce, and Hiring Our Heroes, a partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help veterans and their spouses find employment.

    At Accenture, we feel a special responsibility toward those who have served our country. We, like many employers around the U.S., will continue to find ways to help this special community of exceptional individuals find meaningful 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.

  • Key Findings

    Age, Earning Potential and Education 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.1 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. (see Figure 1)

    Despite a positive trend in employment for veterans overall, younger vets in particular are facing special challenges. Post-9/11 vets and those under 25 are experiencing

    unemployment rates more than 3 percent higher than non-vets (10 percent versus 6.8 percent), according to BLS data from October 2013.2

    On a more positive note, earning potential for vets is 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.3 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. (see Figures 2 and 3)

    Figure 1: Unemployment rates (in percent)

    Quick Fact: Between 2007 and 2011, there were 22.2 million veterans in the United States.5

    Veterans who land civilian jobs in the same career field as that of their military service are earning the most—74 percent of this group say they earn $50,000 or more annually compared to 43 percent of veterans who work in a different field, according to the Accenture study.4 Furthermore, while about 46 percent of employed vets overall said their salary increased in the civilian workforce, an even higher percentage of those working in a field similar to their military service (52 percent) said their salary increased in the civilian workforce. (see Figure 4)

    While their military background appears to serve them well in terms of salaries, many veterans have said that military service alone is not enough to land a job. Education plays a critical part as well. According to the Accenture study, 53 percent of employed vets say their service played a significant role in helping them land a full time job, while 33 percent said it was the single biggest factor. Additional education appears to be an important factor for vets seeking work—69 percent of employed vets have taken additional classes or participated in training programs since leaving the military.

    Despite the value of their military training alongside this additional education, however, translating military skills into civilian jobs remains challenging for many vets. According to the Accenture study, 36 percent of unemployed veterans say turning their military skills into civilian workforce skills is the biggest challenge in their job search. Unemployed veterans said they have applied for an average of 30 positions and have been on an average of six interviews but have not landed a job, and 34 percent have been looking for work for a year or more.

    Figure 2: Salary increase, decrease or no change after transitioning from military to civilian workforce

    Figure 3: Total personal income in 2012 excluding military pay or benefits

    Figure 4: Salary increase, decrease or no change after transitioning from military to civilian workforce

    Accenture | 5 4 | Veteran Employment Survey

    1Source: and 2Source: 3Source: , p.13

    4Source: Accenture survey of 1,000 U.S. veterans, Oct. 2013 5Ibid

  • The Landscape The 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. (see Figures 5-8)

    The survey showed that employed veterans are more likely to be older, married with an employed spouse and more likely to have a college or advanced degree. The unemployed vets are more likely to be younger (the largest percentage is under 35) and less likely to have an advanced education. (see Figures 9-13)

    Currently unemployed vets are in a longer unemployment spell than employed veterans had to endure prior to finding a job. The Accenture research shows that while only 15 percent of employed vets say it took more than a year find their

    first civilian job, 34 percent of unemployed vets have been seeking work for more than a year. (see Figure 14)

    What’s more, unemployed vets say they are willing to make sacrifices to find the job they want. Based on employed veterans’ experience, unemployed vets should especially consider accepting a job with lower pay or benefits, changing their career or going back to school to land a job. (see Figure 15)

    Figure 5: Separated from military

    Figure 7: Enlisted Figure 8: Overseas

    Figure 6: Military Branch

    Figure 9: Age Figure 10: Gender

    Figure 11: Marriage Figure 12: Spouse employment

    Figure 13: Education

    Accenture | 7 6 | Veteran Employment Survey



    19% 46%


    24% 41%



    9% 5%





    12% 5%












    37% 39%


    26% 82%18% 83%17%






    35% 62%





















  • Quick Facts: The veteran population is projected to drop from about 23 million (as of 2010) to fewer than 15 million by 2040. However, the female vet population is expected to rise by about 8 percentage points (comprising up to nearly 18 percent of the entire vet population) by 2040.6

    Figure 14: Length of time looking for work

    Figure 15: Actions vets would take to find the job they want

    Accenture | 9 8 | Veteran Employment Survey

    6U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • Key Job Hunting Assets Having the right skills is clearly a critical factor in any job search. Vets believe they have an unusual advantage in this regard, with most employed veterans saying their military background played a significant role in helping them land their job. However, while the survey shows that employed veterans clearly prioritized their military backgrounds in their job search, unemployed vets are more likely to value all of their skills equally, potentially overlooking

    the full value of their military backgrounds. (see Figure 16)

    A notable proportion of employed veterans—a full third—say their military background is the No. 1 fact