Comparing Ex-Servicemember and Civilian Use of Unemployment Insurance

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Drawing from a unique administrative data set with audited unemployment compensation for ex–service members (UCX) and unemployment insurance (UI) claims from 2002 to 2012, this report provides a first portrait of the job search process of ex–service members relative to that for civilians. Overall, the claim data offer a portrait of a job search process that appears to be working for ex–service members in many ways, with this population making greater use of employment tools such as job referrals and training than civilians. We find that ex–service members delay filing for benefits as compared with similar civilians, although many ex–service members are made aware of their potential benefits as part of the Soldier for Life/Transition Assistance Program. Also, ex–service members had nearly identical durations of unemployment compared with civilian UI claimants. The data also suggest a number of opportunities for improving existing federal transition programs. Efforts to reduce the delay between separation and access of benefits may help ex–service members engage in the job search process more quickly, and ensuring that ex–service members have ready access to online registration tools might facilitate that process. Our data also suggest that ex–service members have different preferences from civilians about occupational mix and compensation that should be considered in designing transition programs. One way of accommodating these preferences would be to give service members better information about how their skills map onto civilian jobs and how best to describe these skills to potential employers.


Unemployment, unemployment insurance, military veterans, veterans employment, wages and compensation