The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced on March 27, 2019, that it is lowering the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) hiring benchmark to 5.9 percent from 6.4 percent. The change applies to affirmative action plan years starting on or after March 31, 2019.

The VEVRAA benchmark is a figure federal contractors must use to evaluate their hiring of protected veterans. Under VEVRAA regulations, contractors may either use OFCCP’s annual benchmark, which is based on annually updated data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or establish their own benchmark by following the five-factor method outlined in OFCCP’s regulations. Relatively few contractors elect to calculate a customized benchmark; most choose to accept the national number published by OFCCP.

Reflecting the very low unemployment rate among veterans, the benchmark has been reduced each year since it was initiated by OFCCP in 2014 at 7.2 percent. That said, disabled veterans continue to face challenges in finding employment. Federal contractors that are looking to fulfill their obligations to veterans and individuals with disabilities should consider implementing programs to identify and employ disabled veterans.