On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Veteran unemployment data for the month of September. The unemployment rate for all Veterans was 6.7 percent—more than a full percentage point lower than the national average of 7.8 percent, which is the lowest overall unemployment rate since January 2009. For post-9/11 veterans, the rate fell to 9.7 percent. While there is more work to do, it is very clear that the unemployment rate among all Veterans—to include America’s newest Veterans—is headed in the right direction. The charts below help us see why.
In the first, we see the monthly unemployment rate for all Veterans since January 2010. The trend is clearly downward.
Because chunks of data are often better indicators of real movement, another way to view the trend is by looking at the moving (or rolling) average. Like the chart above, the chart immediately below captures 12-month averages for the periods ending each month since January 2010. What it shows is a modest—but definitive—decline in the unemployment rate of Veterans. The current 12-month average unemployment for Veterans is 7.3 percent—and this is the lowest figure we’ve seen during this administration.
This is significant because the moving 12-month average is a far more conservative measure than the month-to-month data. When we see movement in the rolling average, we can be confident that the unemployment rate among post-9/11 Veterans is, indeed, changing.
Post-9/11 Veterans are also continuing to experience a downward trend in unemployment. For Iraq and Afghanistan-era Veterans (or Gulf War II-era Veterans), the monthly unemployment rate dropped to 9.7 percent in September. The chart below shows the declining unemployment rate over time. While the month-to-month figures for this demographic are highly volatile, the longer term trend is a reliable measure that continues to show a consistent decline over more than two and a half years. This is a strong sign of recovery following the worst economic recession since The Great Depression.
As with all Veterans, the unemployment rate decline among post-9/11 Veterans is also reflected in the 12-month moving average. As we can see below, the rate has consistently fallen—modestly but definitively— throughout 2012. The rate over the past 12 months stands at 10.4 percent—which is tied with July 2012 for the lowest unemployment rate during this administration.
While all the numbers above are encouraging, we know our work isn’t done—and that there’s still much to do. In this economy, too many Veterans still can’t find meaningful work, and we’re working every day to remedy that.
That’s why VA is collaborating with the White House and the Chamber of Commerce on hiring fairs across the country through the “Hiring Our Heroes” Program. It’s also why we’re urging Veterans to prepare themselves for the job market by taking advantage of programs like the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Veterans Retraining and Assistance Program (VRAP).
If anything, today’s figure reminds us that there’s still much work to be done. VA, in conjunction with the White House, remains committed to ensuring that the unemployment rate for all Veterans continues its downward path.