The Senate’s failure to act on federal aid to state and local governments jeopardizes veterans’ jobs

Yesterday, the Republican-controlled Senate and White House rolled out the HEALS Act, which not only guts Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for millions of unemployed workers, but also completely overlooks critical federal aid to state and local governments. This intentional oversight threatens vital public services just when they are needed most and could result in an additional 5.3 million public and private sector service workers losing their jobs by the end of 2021. More than one million veterans—13.2% of all veterans—work for state and local governments and could be severely impacted by the Senate’s failure to provide timely federal aid. Because state and local governments are extremely restricted in how they can borrow, congressional authorization for state and local fiscal support is vital to prevent deep cuts in health care and education.

Black workers, who are heavily represented in the overall public sector workforce, are even more heavily represented in the share of state and local government workers who are veterans. While Black workers make up 12% of the private sector and 14% of the public sector workforces, they make up 17% of public sector workers who are also veterans.

The map in Figure A provides a state-by-state overview of the number of veterans serving in state and local governments around the country, both by total numbers and by share of the public sector workforce. Table 1 provides the list of the top 10 states with the highest numbers of veterans employed by state and local governments. Table 2 provides the list of the top 10 states with the highest share of veterans employed by the public sector. California has the largest number of veterans working in the public sector, while Montana has the largest share of veterans working for state and local governments.

Figure A

How many state and local government workers are veterans in your state?

State Number of state and local government workers who are veterans
Alabama 19,700
Alaska 6,500
Arizona 26,100
Arkansas 12,900
California 106,000
Colorado 21,400
Connecticut 9,300
Delaware 4,700
Washington D.C. 1,300
Florida 76,500
Georgia 43,500
Hawaii 6,000
Idaho 7,200
Illinois 40,500
Indiana 18,900
Iowa 10,900
Kansas 14,200
Kentucky 16,300
Louisiana 17,300
Maine 5,800
Maryland 24,200
Massachusetts 20,800
Michigan 19,500
Minnesota 18,900
Mississippi 10,800
Missouri 19,000
Montana 6,700
Nebraska 9,100
Nevada 11,700
New Hampshire 5,200
New Jersey 23,600
New Mexico 11,100
New York 56,000
North Carolina 40,100
North Dakota 3,300
Ohio 38,600
Oklahoma 17,800
Oregon 14,600
Pennsylvania 42,600
Rhode Island 3,000
South Carolina 19,400
South Dakota 5,000
Tennessee 25,400
Texas 98,500
Utah 7,500
Vermont 1,600
Virginia 45,300
Washington 38,300
West Virginia 8,400
Wisconsin 19,000
Wyoming 4,000

Note: Values for Alaska, Washington D.C., New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming are based on the share of state and local government employees that are not veterans and the average share of state and local employees for which veteran status is not available in all other states.

Source: Economic Policy Institute analysis of American Community Survey microdata, pooled years 2017–2018

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Table 1

Top ten states with the most state and local government workers that are veterans

Rank State Number of state and local government veteran employees
1 California 106,000
2 Texas 98,500
3 Florida 76,500
4 New York 56,000
5 Virginia 45,300
6 Georgia 43,500
7 Pennsylvania 42,600
8 Illinois 40,500
9 North Carolina 40,100
10 Ohio 38,600

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Table 2

Top ten states with the highest shares of state and local government workers that are veterans

Rank State Share of state and local government workers that are veterans
1 Montana 10.2%
2 Alaska 10.0%
3 South Dakota 9.4%
4 Virginia 8.9%
5 Nevada 8.8%
6 Delaware 8.4%
7 Washington 8.4%
8 Florida 8.4%
9 Pennsylvania 8.2%
10 Maine 8.2%

Note: Values for Alaska and South Dakota are based on the share of state and local government employees that are not veterans and the average share of state and local employees for which veteran status is not available in all other states.

Source: Economic Policy Institute analysis of American Community Survey microdata, pooled years 2017–2018

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