Veterans unemployment rates stayed largely flat last month with slight improvements in job prospects among younger veterans as America finished its first full year under business restrictions from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The unemployment rate for all veterans in April was 5.2 percent, up slightly from the 5.0 percent mark reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in March. The overall national unemployment rate similarly slipped from 6.0 percent in March to 6.1 percent in April.

The veterans estimates translate into roughly 500,000 individuals looking — but unable to find — steady employment last month. About 9.2 million veterans are in the American workforce today.

The 5.2 percent rate is less than half the unemployment number posted by veterans in April 2020, right at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. BLS officials reported a veterans jobless rate that month of 11.7 percent, and a national unemployment rate of 14.7, the highest levels recorded since the Great Depression.

Since then, the veterans unemployment estimates have decreased steadily, hovering between 5 and 6 percent six of the last seven months.

The jobless rate among younger veterans — a more volatile figure, because of the smaller population and extra difficulty among younger Americans in finding jobs — fell to 5.1 percent in April, down a full percent from the previous month.

It’s the second time in the last five months that veterans from the recent wars posted a better employment rate than that of the entire veterans community. In the previous 32 months, that only happened once.

Earlier this week, Veterans Affairs officials opened the application process for a new rapid retraining program for veterans who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus-related closures and layoffs.

The benefit, which is open to about 17,000 veterans, is targeted at those who have already exhausted other job-training opportunities but still find themselves without stable employment. Application information is available on the VA web site.

Lawmakers are also considering additional job training programs for veterans, but economists have cautioned that any recovery for the veterans community will be tied to improvements in the overall American job market.

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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