The unemployment rate among veterans fell for the second consecutive month in June but still sits at more than double the number of jobless veterans reported in March, according to data released Thursday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 30,000 fewer veterans applied for unemployment benefits last month as compared to May, pushing the jobless rate from 9 percent to 8.6 percent. That figure translates into about 776,00 veterans nationwide struggling to find work.

In March, before the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of businesses across the country, the veterans unemployment rate was 4.1 percent. It has been as low as 2.3 percent in recent years, routinely outpacing the national unemployment rate.

BLS officials announced that the national rate decreased from 13.3 percent in May to 11.1 percent in June, still nearly three times higher than the rate seen at the end of 2019.

Younger veterans did not see the same positive employment trend last month as their older peers, according to Department of Labor researchers. The jobless rate for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan War era group held steady at 10.3 percent.

That group represents about 40 percent of all veterans in the American workforce today. Veterans of the first Gulf War era — who make up about a quarter of all working veterans — had a jobless rate of just 6 percent.

Boosting veteran employment has been a priority for lawmakers in recent years. However, employment experts have said that most of the recent troubles with veterans employment are tied to the country’s overall economic downturn, and can’t be fully reversed until those underlying national problems are addressed.

A large portion of the improvement in the national unemployment rate came from workers who had been temporarily laid off from their jobs because of the fast-spreading illness. BLS officials said that total dropped by 4.8 million people in June alone, and now sits at about 10.6 million.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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