On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Veteran unemployment data for the month of February. The unemployment rate for all Veterans was 6.9 percent in February—a decrease from 7.6 percent in January and still below the national average of 7.7 percent. For post-9/11 Veterans, the rate dropped to 9.4 percent in February compared to 11.7 percent in January. In 2012, over 1 million Veterans were unemployed but today that number has dropped down to 772,000.
In the first graph, we see the monthly unemployment rate for all Veterans since January 2010. 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 February 2010. What it shows is a modest decline in the unemployment rate of Veterans over the long term. 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 matters 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 there is real movement in the unemployment rate.
For post-9/11 (or Gulf War II-era) Veterans, the monthly unemployment rate decreased to 9.4 percent in February. The chart below demonstrates the declining unemployment rate over time. Because the month-to-month figures for this demographic are volatile, the longer term trend is a more reliable measure that continues to show a consistent decline over nearly three years.
However, as we can see below, the 12-month moving average unemployment rate for post-9/11 Veterans has now increased slightly.
Overall, the numbers above are encouraging—as is the declining national unemployment rate. But we know there is still more to be done. In this economy, too many Veterans still can’t find meaningful work, and we’re working every day to remedy that.
VA is collaborating with the White House and the Chamber of Commerce on hiring fairs across the country through the “Hiring Our Heroes” Program. We also urged 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 numbers reminds us that Veterans are finding work but there’s still much to be done. VA, in partnership with the White House and private sector, remains committed to ensuring that the unemployment rate for all Veterans continues its downward path.