Education and Transition

Veterans unemployment down again in August, but still well above pre-pandemic levels

Veterans unemployment fell for the fourth consecutive month in August but is still nearly double what it was one year ago, according to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The jobless rate for all veterans last month was 6.4 percent, down from 7.9 percent in July. The figure translates into about 560,000 veterans actively looking for work last month. The news came as the national unemployment rate also fell for the fourth month in a row, to 8.4 percent.

But both numbers sit well above where they did before the start of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The veterans unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in August 2019 and at 2.8 percent last December.

Following widespread temporary and permanent business closings amid state quarantine rules last spring, the national unemployment rate jumped to nearly 15 percent before its current decline.

On Friday morning, President Donald Trump hailed the improvements as a sign that the economy is recovering faster than expected from the effects of the pandemic.

Veterans from the most recent wars saw their unemployment rate drop from 8.2 percent in July to 7.0 percent in August, outpacing the national rate.

But that number still sits well above the 4.0 percent reported by BLS at the end of summer 2019, or the 3.1 percent reported last December.

Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars era represent 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 4.7 percent.

Lawmakers have floated several new job training and unemployment relief programs for veterans in recent months, but those plans have not moved ahead as congressional plans for a new coronavirus economic relief package have stalled amid partisan infighting.

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