Montana Labor Market Blog

Research & Analysis Bureau - Montana Department of Labor & Industry

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Quick Facts: Montana Veterans and the Labor Force

Q: How many veterans are there in Montana?

A: The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists Montana’s 2015 veteran population as 106,000. The American Community Survey reports 91,956 Montana veterans in their 5-year estimates (2010-2014). The reasons for the discrepancy are differences in survey methodology and using data from different years. Veterans make up approximately 11.8% of the population in Montana.


Q: How do veterans’ incomes compare to those of nonveterans in Montana?

A: The median income of veterans is higher than nonveterans and the population as a whole in Montana. Veterans are also far less likely than the general population to be living below the poverty level


Q: Are veterans more likely to be unemployed in Montana than non-veterans?

A: In 2015, the unemployment rate for Montana veterans was 5.2%, compared to 3.9% for nonveterans and 4.1% for the state as a whole. While these rates seem to indicate higher unemployment for veterans, it is important to understand that the error range for this statistic is fairly high, at +/-2.2%. This error range means that there is no statistical difference between the two estimates. In other words, the unemployment rate for Montana veterans is not different from the Montana population as a whole.


Q: How does Montana’s veteran unemployment rate compare to those of other states?

A: The veteran unemployment rate for the country as a whole is about 5.8%. Montana is somewhere in the middle among all states, with a ranking of 36th highest.


Q: Do Montana veterans participate in the labor force at the same rate as nonveterans?

A: No. Montana’s labor force participation rate was 48.6% for veterans, 67.8% for nonveterans, and 64.1% as a whole. Unlike the unemployment rates, these figures are statistically different, allowing us to say conclusively that labor force participation in Montana is lower among veterans than nonveterans.


Q: Why do Montana veterans participate in the labor force at a lower rate than nonveterans?

A: Montana’s veteran labor force participation is very similar to that of the U.S. The reason for the lower rates largely involves the age of most veterans. Most veterans from WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War are over 65 and are likely retired. Veterans from the Gulf War Era, who are still mostly younger than 65, have labor force participation rates roughly equal to the nonveteran population.


Q: How does disability status affect labor force participation among veterans?

A: Nationally, veterans with disabilities have lower labor force participation rates than veterans without service-related disabilities. In the U.S., 20% of all veterans have a service-related disability, with disabilities being more common among Gulf War II era veterans. One-third of Gulf War II veterans have a service-related disability.

Categories: Ask an Economist


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