Education and Transition

Unemployment for newest vets still near all-time low

Unemployment for the latest generation of veterans ticked up slightly in September from the all-time low recorded in August, yet September's slightly higher number is still the second-lowest monthly rate ever charted for the group, government data show.

A flat 5 percent of post-9/11 veterans were unemployed last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment for the group was at 4.7 percent in August. In September of last year, 6.2 percent of such veterans were unemployed.

For the nation as a whole, unemployment stood at 5.1 percent in September, as 142,000 people were added to payrolls across the country.

Statisticians caution against focusing too much on any single month's data report. Yet the numbers recorded in the middle of this calendar year chart a clear and unambiguous trend of stunningly low unemployment for the latest generation of veterans.

Over the last five months, four of the monthly unemployment rates for this group have been either the lowest or the second-lowest ever recorded at the time they came out. The government began tracking employment for post-9/11 veterans in September 2008.

Although the monthly unemployment rate among the newest vets ticked up in September to 5 percent, the overall annual rate is on track among the lowest rates since this group was first tracked in 2008. The chart below compares the newest vets' annual rates with the rates of all non-veterans.

Photo Credit: K. Chamberlain/Staff

This success comes after the group was rocked hard by the recession; 2010 and 2011 each saw just one month in which the unemployment rate was below 10 percent. In January 2011, the jobless rate for post-9/11 vets reached an all-time high of 15.2 percent, more than three times the latest number.

The employment situation steadily improved over the next two years and began gaining momentum even more quickly in 2014, when more than half of the monthly unemployment rates were charted at 7 percent or lower. So far this year, nearly half of the monthly rates have been below 6 percent.

Employment is similarly rosy for veterans as a whole, though this larger group is not charting the record-breaking lows that post-9/11 vets are. The September unemployment rate for veterans of all generations was 4.3 percent, up just a tick from the August rate of 4.2 percent and down slightly from the 4.7 percent rate recorded in September 2014.

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