23 July 2014

Veterans Unemployment: Comparing State by State


The veteran job market is improving, especially in locations with a large military presence and states without a massive influx of college graduates each year.

Over the last decade, post-9/11 veterans have had a much higher unemployment rate than their civilian counterparts, but this is starting to change. Over the last several years, the economy has begun to rebound from the recession nearly six years ago. The gradual rebound means more jobs for regular civilians and veterans alike. Even with this change occurring, there are certain parts of the country that are much more advantageous for veteran job-seekers than others. 

Let’s look at the two states with the lowest and highest unemployment rates for vets. South Carolina has a 4% veteran unemployment rate, the lowest in the nation. On the other hand, Indiana has a 17% veteran unemployment rate. Why? 

For starters, states with large military presences have higher than average veteran employment rates. There are many industries in these areas that require skills developed during military service that are easily transferred to civilian life. There are also many businesses that are either veteran-owned or make concerted efforts to hire veterans. Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia are ranked the highest in veteran employment rates with bases like Ft. Bragg, Ft. Benning, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Langley Air Force Base, and Quantico.  

Next, states that report high rates of veteran employment also report low rates of college graduates. This is one of the biggest complaints from veterans. Many serve their country with a high school diploma then transition into a civilian workforce where many competitors have college diplomas. States like Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey score low on veteran employment rates because of their heavy concentration of college graduates. Yet again, the Southeast has a low graduation rate, and more opportunity for vets.  

Many vets are returning with skills in construction, telecommunications, and engineering, and they should be targeting states that have broad availability in the industries. States like South Dakota have specialized oil and healthcare industries that make the job search difficult unless the skills acquired during military service transition directly into the role.

Knowledge is the key to success in the job search. It’s best to target states where many businesses that are hiring understand the military lifestyle and the skills veterans have to offer.  

How will this information affect your job hunting? What tips do you have in marketing yourself in states that have tougher job opportunities for veterans?

Weigh in on the discussion here and connect within the military community.

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