Record Number of Veterans Getting Government Jobs

But They Are Not Staying Long, OPM Reports

Veterans Unemployment Rate Continues to Fall. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The good news is that the number of veterans being hired for federal government jobs is at a five-year high. The bad news is that they aren’t staying very long.

According to a new report from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), nearly half (47%) of the full time jobs filled in 2014 were filled by veterans.

Calling it proof that the Obama Administration’s initiative to give veterans an advantage in the hiring process is working, OPM noted that veterans now make up 30.8% -- one in three employees – of the total 1,990,000 employee federal workforce. About 612,000 veterans held federal government jobs at the end of fiscal year 2014.

In November 2009, President Obama signed an executive order creating the Veterans Employment Initiative and directing all Executive Branch agencies to develop policies and procedures to increase their hiring of veterans.

“The federal government has led efforts to recruit and retain individuals who have served our country in the armed forces,” stated a White House fact sheet on the initiative. “This initiative has been extraordinarily successful, ushering in 200,000 new veteran hires and at least 25,000 new Reservists to the federal workforce.”

Along with the Veterans Employment Initiative, the much older veterans preference law requires the federal agencies to give eligible veterans preference in hiring over many other job applicants.

But Many Don’t Stay Long

However, as the overall morale of federal employees continues to decline, the new OPM statistics also revealed that veterans are more likely to leave federal employment within two years than non-veterans.

The Small Business Administration reported worst veterans job retention rate during 2014, with only 62% staying two years or longer, compared to 88% of non-veteran employees.

The much larger Department of Commerce managed to keep only 68% of its veteran employees for more than two years, compared to 82% of non-veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, traditionally a major employer of veterans, lost almost 25% of its veteran employees in less than two years, compared to 20% of non-veterans.

Only the Department of Defense and the State Department, both closely related to the military, managed to keep more veteran than non-veteran employees for two years or longer, according to the OPM report.

While it offered no explanation for why veterans are leaving their jobs sooner than non-veterans, the OPM stated it will be consulting with veterans and agency officials on their efforts to improve veteran job retention.

Some veterans’ advocates suggest that in a rush to hire them, agencies often place veterans into jobs that do not best match their skills and experience.

Which Veterans Are Being Hired?

The OPM report also revealed some details on the veterans getting government jobs.

  • Employment of disabled veterans by the federal agencies has increased from 7% of all employees in 2010 to 11.4% in 2014.
  • 81% of veterans hired by the federal government are men, compared to only 45% of non-veterans. Of course, this reflects the fact that while the number of women veterans is increasing steadily, they still make up only about 6% of all veterans.
  • About 40% of veteran employees had college degrees or advanced degrees, compared to 54.7% of non-veterans, reflecting the fact that veterans often have hard time being able to attend college after their military service.
  • The average base annual pay for veterans in government jobs was $73,675 in 2014, compared to $ 83,958 for non-veterans.
  • The average age of veteran employees was 48.8 years, compared to 46.3 for non-veterans, reflecting the fact that most veterans has spent at least two years in military service.
  • Veteran employees had spent an average of 11.4 years in non-military government jobs, compared to 13.9 years for non-veterans.