The Salt Lake Tribune used U.S. Census Bureau data to compare Utah veterans to those in other states and nonveterans within the Beehive State.
This story is part of The Salt Lake Tribune’s ongoing commitment to identify solutions to Utah’s biggest challenges through the work of the Innovation Lab.
In what has become an annual event at the University of Utah, 11 veterans were honored Friday in a full military dress ceremony for their service in various wars. It was the 25th year for the Veterans Day event, and included bagpipe processions, a medallion presentation and a cannon salute.
Reflecting on the state of veterans’ lives in Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune searched U.S. Census Bureau data to compare and contrast with those of other states and nonveterans in the Beehive State.
Utah veterans make more money and are more educated than other Beehive State residents.
But they’re also more likely to be unemployed and have disabilities.
Here’s a dive into more data:
Veterans make a median income of $56,425, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
That’s 40% more than the general population and 42% more than nonveterans.
They’re also less likely to make an income below the federal poverty level ($13,590 for an individual in 2022).
Based on American Community Survey 1-year estimates, 5.8% of Utah veterans made less than the federal poverty level in the last year. That’s compared to 8.1% of the state’s overall population and 8.2% of nonveterans.
Utah veterans also are more likely to have at least a bachelor’s degree than nonveterans — 39.1% of veterans have a four-year degree or higher, compared to 37.9% of nonveterans.
Despite economic advantages, veterans in Utah have a higher unemployment rate at 4%.
They’re also much more likely to have a disability — 31.7% of Utah veterans have a disability. That’s 158% more than the 12.3% of nonveterans who have a disability.
Utah has one of the lowest population shares of veterans in the country.
Veterans represent about 4.5% of the state population, according to census data. That’s lower than the national share of 6.2% and the fifth lowest of any state.
Utah is the only state in the Mountain and Pacific time zones other than California to have a smaller share of veterans than the country as a whole.
Neighboring states have much higher shares:
Arizona and Idaho: 7.9%
Utah veterans’ median income of $56,425 is about 12% higher than the median income of U.S. veterans overall.
The Beehive State has the eighth highest median income for veterans.
Utah is one of 20 states — including neighboring Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming — where veterans’ median income is higher than the $50,476 median income of veterans nationally.
Veterans in Utah also are less likely to live in poverty, with around 5.8% making less than the federal poverty level of $13,590 in the past year.
That’s tied with Alaska for the fourth lowest rate of poverty and is about 23% lower than the national poverty rate for veterans.
Utah veterans also are more likely than others across the country to have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Nationally, 31.6% of veterans have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Utah has the fourth highest proportion at 39.1%.
The Beehive State is only beat out by Maryland, Colorado and Virginia at 42%; 42.2%; and 44.3%, respectively.
Utah veterans aren’t just more likely to be unemployed than nonveterans in the Beehive State.
They also have one of the highest rates of unemployment compared to veterans in other states.
The national unemployment rate for veterans is 3.3%, and Utah is tied with Texas and South Dakota for the eighth highest rate.
Nearby Wyoming has the highest rate of unemployment at 7.9%, and Nevada is also within the top 10 at 4.3%.
Utah veterans also have a higher rate of disability than former service members in other states.
At a national level, 30.6% of veterans have a disability.
Utah’s 31.7% is tied with Michigan and Hawaii for the 12th highest and is one of 23 states higher than the national level.
Utah Veterans Alliance, a nonprofit focused on serving the state’s veterans and raising public awareness about their needs, has a list of resources available for veterans who need help finding employment, seeking treatment for disabilities and more.
Several services are available through Utah’s Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.
Megan Banta is The Salt Lake Tribune’s data enterprise reporter, a philanthropically supported position. The Tribune retains control over all editorial decisions.