On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Veteran unemployment data for the month of December. The unemployment rate for all Veterans was 7.0 percent—still below the national average of 7.8 percent. For post-9/11 veterans, the rate was 10.8 percent. Most importantly, the annual jobless rate for post-9/11 Vets was 9.9 percent in 2012; a significant drop from the annual average in 2011 of 12.1 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 over three years 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 rate for all Veterans is 7.0 percent.
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 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 ticked up slightly to 10.8 percent in December. The chart below demonstrates the declining unemployment rate over time. Because the month-to-month figures for this demographic are highly volatile, the longer term trend is a more reliable measure that continues to show a consistent decline over nearly three years. This is the strongest sign yet of recovery in the area of Veteran employment following the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.
As expected, the falling unemployment rate among post-9/11 Veterans is 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 has now fallen to 9.9 percent.
The numbers above are encouraging, but 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.