Veteran Unemployment Below National Average at 7.0 Percent

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Veteran unemployment data for the month of January. The unemployment rate for all Veterans was 7.6 percent—a slight increase from last month but still below the national average of 7.9 percent. For Post-9/11 veterans, the rate was 11.7 percent. While Veteran unemployment has ticked up over the past several months, the long-term trend remains downward.

In the first graph, we see the monthly unemployment rate for all Veterans since January 2010.  While the uptick in recent months is apparent, the long-term trend shows a clear decrease.

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 remains at 7.0 percent—still the lowest 12-month average unemployment rate since 2009.

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 are confident that the unemployment rate among all Veterans is declining.

For Post-9/11 (or Gulf War II-era) Veterans, the monthly unemployment rate increased slightly to 11.7 percent in January. However, 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.

As we can see below, the 12-month moving average for Post-9/11 veterans ticked up to 10.1 percent (over December’s 9.9 percent), but this remains the second-lowest figure seen since 2009.

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.

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