The Best and Worst States for Veterans Looking to Find a Job

Airman 1st Class Beknazar Zhumabaev meets with potential employers at a job fair during a Transition Summit. (Mauricio Campino/U.S. Air Force photo)

Veteran unemployment hovered at a staggering 13% to 15% during the Great Recession, the economic downturn from 2007 to 2009.

Fortunately, that number has steadily declined since 2008, settling close to the national average at 3.6%.

But there are still challenges that remain for the 200,000 vets who leave the military every year, along with the unemployed veterans still out there.

These challenges include more and better access to job opportunities, which a 2017 University of Southern California study said is the No. 1 priority for separating veterans. But the chances of getting that big job opportunity might be limited, depending on where a veteran lives.

Related: Veterans Employment Holds Steady as Experts Warn of Coming Downturn

The Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers data about the hiring and working habits of America's 20 million military veterans every year, which one website distilled down to outline the best and worst states for separating vets to find work. is a comparison shopping site that uses data analytics to find its customers the best deal in utilities and home services. This time, instead of using data to get great cable service, the site crunched the numbers published by BLS to help vets find jobs.

According to the website's hiring veterans research, it compared every state's government hiring practices, unemployment rates, median income, veteran business ownership and job training investment on a per-veteran basis.

The researchers gave each state a rating based on individual scores for each of those categories. Scores from each category were then added together to give an overall rating.

You can also find out how your individual state scored.

The Best: New Jersey

New Jersey consistently rated in the top 10 among state government hiring practices, unemployment rates, median income and Department of Veterans Affairs job-training investment. It was also the best in improvement in its state unemployment rate. The only area where it doesn't rank in the top 10 is the number of veteran-owned businesses, but its 104 score there is still worth a mention.

The other states in the top five include Alaska, Virginia, California and Massachusetts.

The Worst: Ohio

Ohio is trying -- Gov. Mike DeWine signs Senate Bill 7 into law at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The bill mandates Ohio agencies to issue licenses or certificates to qualifying military members and their spouses. (Wesley Farnsworth/U.S. Air Force photo)

The Midwest was the lowest-scoring region in the United States, with an average score of 120 (the best was the Northeast -- including New Jersey -- which averaged more than 150 points). But Ohio is a standout at the bottom of the list, scoring in the bottom 10 in every category on the list. And where it wasn't in the bottom 10, veteran-owned businesses and veteran incomes, it was still among the lowest-performing states.

Ohio saw an increase in veteran unemployment between 2014 and 2018 and is in a three-way tie with Oregon and Kansas at No. 2 for highest veteran unemployment. Other states in the overall bottom five include Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi and New York.

For a full breakdown of the data, visit InMyArea's Best and Worst States for Veteran Hiring.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at

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