From War to Work: How Employers Shape Veterans' Transition into the Civilian Labor Market
Early Career Research Award
In the more than 30 years following the all-volunteer force (AVF), the proportion of women serving in the military has increased from 1.8 percent just before the AVF to 14.2 percent in 2008. The majority of women do not stay in the military for a 20-year or longer career; like men, most women only serve a few years before transitioning to the civilian workforce. Although the fraction of the military who are women has risen, as has the fraction of veterans who are women, little research informs how female veterans of the AVF fare economically after leaving service, or whether military service benefits minority women who serve in such disproportionate numbers. This paper investigates the civilian employment experiences of female veterans of the AVF using two sources of data. First, population-based data from the American Community Survey are used to evaluate the employment experiences of female veterans. Second, data from an audit study of civilian hiring practices provides additional insight into the experiences of women veterans transitioning from military to civilian work. There is little evidence of a veteran labor market disadvantage, either for white or black women. Both groups exhibit strong patterns of labor force attachment. Only white women show slightly lower rates of employment (among those in the labor force), while black women veterans show consistently advantageous employment profiles. These positive employment outcomes among female veterans at least partly derive from employer preference for hiring veterans over equally qualified nonveteran women.