Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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South Dakota e-Labor Bulletin

October 2019

Veterans: Featuring the Heroes Among Us

Each year, we honor the people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. A federal holiday, Veterans Day, takes place on Nov. 11. As defined by the Code of Federal Regulations, veterans are people who served in the active military, naval or air service and who were discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. The holiday gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans.

Nov. 11 was first commemorated as Armistice Day one year after the 1918 temporary cessation of hostilities, otherwise known as an armistice, in World War I between Germany and the Allied nations. The armistice took place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In 1938, Nov. 11 officially became a federal holiday dedicated to the cause of world peace and continued to be called Armistice Day. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, along with the urging of veterans’ service organizations, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 which renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

South Dakota is home to 60,330 veterans according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (five-year estimates for 2013-2017). The ratio of male to female veterans in South Dakota is around 9 to 1. Veterans account for 9.4 percent of South Dakota’s population over 18 years old.

It is important to note Veterans Day is a day to remember all veterans regardless of age. The graphic below shows the percentage of veterans in South Dakota by age.

South Dakota has historically been well represented in each era of service, as shown in the graphic below.

The American Community Survey provides other valuable information pertaining to veterans. Along with demographic information, the survey tracks income, education and employment statistics. For people living in South Dakota with reported income, the median per capita income of a veteran was $38,955 in 2017, whereas the median per capita income of a non-veteran was $28,970. The educational attainment of a veteran is relatively the same as that of a non-veteran. Approximately one third of people in South Dakota who are 25 years and older obtain a bachelor’s degree. Around 60 percent of people attend college and over 90 percent of people graduate high school or something equivalent. The percentage of veterans living in poverty is lower than that of non-veterans. Only 7 percent of veterans reported income below poverty level in 2017, while 13 percent of non-veterans reported income below poverty level.

The unemployment rate is one of the more discussed topics when the labor market for veterans is considered. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey allows insight each month into what the unemployment rate is for veterans and non-veterans over 18 years old in the United States. The graph below compares veteran and non-veteran unemployment rates over a 10-year period from the start of 2009 to midway through 2019. Over the past 10 years, the monthly veteran unemployment rate has exceeded the non-veteran unemployment just five times.

As Americans, we are forever indebted to all our veterans for their service. These special citizens are also an important component of the workforce. Because of their military training and experience, veterans offer employers many skills and qualities which are highly valuable in the workplace, including the following.

  • Leadership
  • Ability to work as a team member and as a team leader
  • Ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
  • Ability to give and follow direction
  • Sensitivity
  • Overcoming adversity
  • Planning and organization
  • Emphasis on safety
  • Flexibility and adaptability

To learn more about hiring a veteran and the services the Department of Labor and Regulation (DLR) offers to veterans, visit our Veterans page. Or visit your nearest Job Service office; each DLR office has trained representatives who can assist. See a directory of Job Service offices.