In a headline that hardly sounds like good news, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today that the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001 — a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans — edged down to 9.0% in 2013. A number that still seems enormous considering the current unemployment rate in the United States is hovering in the 6.7% area.
Among Gulf War-era II veterans, the unemployment rates in 2013 for men (8.8 percent) and women (9.6 percent) were not statistically different from the prior year (9.5 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively). Among women, the unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans (9.6 percent) was higher in 2013 than the rate for non veterans. Despite the best efforts of many of the nations largest corporations, jobs for returning veterans have been difficult to secure. This despite the fact that many of the men and women that serve in the military return with job skills that are superior to a large part of the domestic workforce. They also return with discipline that often also trumps the domestic workforce as well.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics highlighted some of the 2013 data:
Among all veterans, the unemployment rate for women declined to 6.9 percent in 2013. The rate for male veterans edged down to 6.5 percent.
Among the 722,000 unemployed veterans in 2013, 60 percent were age 45 and over. Thirty-five percent were age 25 to 44, and 5 percent were age 18 to 24.
Veterans with a service-connected disability had an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent in August 2013, little different than the rate for veterans with no disability (6.6 percent).
One in 3 employed veterans with a service-connected disability worked in the public sector in August 2013, compared with 1 in 5 veterans with no disability.
In 2013, the unemployment rate of veterans varied by state, ranging from over 10 percent in Michigan and New Jersey to under 4 percent in Delaware, Iowa, North Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia.
It is also important to remember that many of our veterans, both men and women, are in the Reserves or the National Guard. They often have ended up having to leave their families and their jobs for extended deployments. Fortunately, many of the businesses that these dedicated and patriotic citizens work for have kept their jobs open and secure until their return. A noble gesture for which they should be commended.
Hopefully the high number of unemployed veterans that served this nation will continue to fall. The 9% number hardly looks good in comparison to the general population numbers. However, the large number of people leaving the workforce is the highest since the 1970s, and it is skewing the current number lower than it actually may be.