Thursday, October 6, 2016

Veterans in San Juan County


The Department of Workforce Services has just published an interactive graphic on Utah veterans. Based on 2015 Census Bureau data, it allows researchers (and the simply curious) to “drill down” to veteran profiles at the county level. The department pays special attention to veterans for a number of reasons. Obviously, the nation is deeply obligated to veterans for their service. Veterans also make up almost 5 percent of Utah’s population and roughly half of veterans are of working age. Veterans have a higher disability proportion than the general public and sometimes have difficulty adapting their military skills to civilian uses. Given the potential for lost productivity, it also makes economic sense for society to concentrate on this population.

As an example of the information available and the potential for insights, this post will focus on San Juan County veterans. The veteran’s visualization profile has five profile segmentations, each represented by a “tab” above the graphs that one can click on.
The first tab is a broad overview of veterans statewide. The second tab details San Juan County veterans versus Utah veterans as a whole. San Juan County veterans in the 35-54 year-old age group (known as a cohort) are employed and participate in the labor force at a much lower rate than veterans in the state as a whole. While a larger part of this discrepancy can be explained by low participation rates in San Juan County as a whole, it is puzzling that County veterans participate less in the labor force than county nonveterans. This differs than the statewide profile; Utah veterans are more likely to be in the labor force than nonveterans.

The third tab shows median income for San Juan County by sex and veteran status. Two observations are especially noteworthy; the first is that the $101,390 estimate of female veteran strains credulity. Further examination of the data shows that the margin of era for the estimate is almost one third and the count of female veterans is very small. The data for male veterans is consistent (although at a lower income) with the experience of veterans statewide; veterans earn more their nonveteran counterparts.

The fourth tab shows veterans by era of service in detail.

Lastly, the fifth tab shows veterans by educational attainment and veteran’s status. The San Juan County profile shows that veterans have significantly more post-high school education than their nonveteran counterparts. However, San Juan County veterans have much less postsecondary educational attainment than Utah veterans statewide. This degree of the gap is somewhat surprising; usually an underrepresentation in the category holding bachelors degrees is (at least partially) compensated by an overrepresentation of the population holding associates degrees or advanced certificates. This is usually a result of the supply of jobs in a particular area. For example, Uintah count veterans have more associates degrees than veterans statewide because of the requirements of the oil and gas industry.