Veterans Remain Roughly One-Third of Federal Workforce

Marine Cap. Lawrence Seilert, left, and Staff Sgt. David Harper watch jets flying the missing man formation aerial salute during a Veteran's Day parade in Dallas. Marine Cap. Lawrence Seilert, left, and Staff Sgt. David Harper watch jets flying the missing man formation aerial salute during a Veteran's Day parade in Dallas. LM Otero/AP

The percentage of veterans making up the federal workforce remained the same between fiscal years 2014 and 2015, at roughly one-third, according to new data from the Office of Personnel Management.

Vets represented 30.9 percent of the total federal workforce in fiscal 2015; 30.8 percent in fiscal 2014; and 30.1 percent in fiscal 2013. Overall the federal government, which hired more employees and veterans in fiscal 2015 than in fiscal 2014, reported having a total onboard workforce of about 2 million in fiscal 2015, roughly 624,000 of them veterans.

The percentage of new veteran hires among all new government hires remained about the same as well: 32.5 percent in fiscal 2015 compared to 33.2 percent in fiscal 2014. Still, the Obama administration is touting the success it has had in boosting the number of vets in government since the president made it a priority as part of a 2009 executive order. The percentage of vets working in the executive branch has increased 5.1 percent since fiscal 2009, when they comprised 25.8 percent of the federal workforce.

About 25,000 service members transition back to civilian life each year as veterans.

“I’m extremely proud to announce the successes of the president’s Veteran Employment Initiative in fiscal 2015, while recognizing there is still work to be done,” wrote acting OPM Director Beth Cobert in a letter accompanying the report, released Thursday, the night before Veterans Day. The 2009 executive order created the President’s Council on Veterans Employment, made up of representatives from every Cabinet-level department and other independent agencies.

Fiscal 2015 marks the first year that OPM is reporting agency progress on specific veteran employment metrics: veteran new hires, disabled vet new hires, veterans onboard, and veteran retention rates. Sixty-seven percent (16) of the 24 federal agencies included in the Council on Veterans Employment were assessed as “effective” or higher, according to the report. Seventy-nine percent received similar ratings for their performance retaining vets in fiscal 2015. However, agencies’ new hire retention rates were better among non-veteran employees than veterans in fiscal 2015 across the board except for two agencies: NASA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to the data.

Agencies employing the greatest number of former service members as a percentage of their overall workforce in fiscal 2015 included the Defense Department (47.3 percent) and its component agencies; Transportation (36.7 percent); and Veterans Affairs (32.9 percent). Agencies that boosted the rate of new veteran hires in fiscal 2015 as a percentage of their workforce included the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department and NASA.

While most agencies hired more actual vets in raw numbers between fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015, the percentage of new vet hires as part of the overall new hire pool stayed about the same, or decreased slightly for many agencies because they hired more people overall in fiscal 2015.

The chart below shows the percentage of all new hires that were veterans since fiscal 2007. 

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