Percentage of Veterans in Federal Workforce Continues to Rise

As of the end of fiscal 2016 a year ago, 31.1 percent of the federal workforce were veterans, up by 0.2 percentage points from 2015 and reflecting a continued gradual rise from the 25.8 percent of 2009 when the Obama administration ordered agencies to put new stress on hiring of veterans.

Among non-seasonal, full-time permanent employees, considered the core of the federal workforce, the percentage is slightly higher, at 32.9 percent, also up by 0.2 points from 2015. And among that portion of the workforce, 42 percent of those newly hired were veterans, compared with 31 percent overall.

The latest OPM report also continues to show wide variation in veterans’ percentages among agencies. Of the 24 Cabinet departments and large agencies for which specific numbers were reported, DoD had the highest, 47.5 percent (within that department, the Air Force leads at 57.1 percent), followed by Transportation, 36.7, and VA, 32.8. Lowest were HHS, 7.5; NSF, 8.7; and AID, 8.5.

“The retention rates for veterans are encouraging as well, with many agencies retaining newly hired veterans at rates near those of their non-veteran employees,” OPM said; that rate is a measure of employees still with the government two years after being hired.

The veterans’ retention rate was higher than the general rate in only six of the agencies although in most cases the difference plus or minus was only several percentage points.