BEND, OR -- Last year, Oregon veterans saw their lowest unemployment rate in a decade. A recent report by the Oregon Employment Department shows the state's more than 300,000 vets have good job prospects.
Economist Felicia Bechtoldt tells KBND News, "The unemployment rate for veterans in Oregon was 4.3% in 2017. The overall Oregon unemployment rate was 4.1% in 2017, so the unemployment rate for veterans was slightly higher." But, she says, "Oregon's veterans earned a higher median income than non-veterans." That higher income isn't just for the men, "Female veterans earned a median income of $28,500 a year. The female non-veterans income was $24,400 a year in 2017." Bechtoldt believes education is a big factor influencing those higher wages.
She says the low jobless rate among veterans is especially noteworthy, given that nearly 33% of vet claim a service-related disability, as opposed to 15% of civilians; yet their unemployment rates are nearly identical. "Veterans are more likely to have a disability, but they are less likely to be in poverty than the general population," says Bechtoldt. The report also shows that 8.1% of vets were considered in poverty in 2017, compared to nearly 13% of the total population.
More than half of Oregon's veterans, however, are not looking for work and aren't considered in the unemployment numbers, "This is related to the age of the veterans. More than half of Oregon's veterans are 65 years and older, and served in the military at least four decades ago."