Veterans unemployment rates held steady in September even as the outlook across America improved for most other job seekers.
Bureau of Labor Statistics officials on Friday announced the unemployment rate for all veterans last month was 3.6 percent, the same as in August. It’s only the second time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in America in March 2020 that the rate has been below 4.0 percent.
The rate among younger veterans — individuals who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars era — rose slightly from August (3.1 percent) to September (3.5 percent). However, economists have warned that because of smaller sample sizes with that specific population, monthly changes can be more dramatic than with the overall veterans figures.
Both numbers continue a positive trend of economic recovery for veterans since the early days of the pandemic, when veterans unemployment more than tripled in just two months. In April 2020, overall veterans unemployment spiked to 11.7 percent and the national unemployment rate hit 14.7 percent, both the highest marks seen in decades.
BLS officials said the national unemployment estimate for September was 4.8 percent, down significantly from 5.2 percent in August. The nationwide jobless estimate has not been below 5.0 percent since March 2020.
The bureau also reported that the national economy added about 194,000 new jobs last month.
The 3.6 percent mark for veterans translates into about 300,000 individuals actively looking for work. About half of the county’s 18 million veterans are currently employed or looking for work, while the other half are unable to hold a full-time job or already retired.
Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched a new Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program for individuals who lost their jobs for pandemic-related reasons. The initiative provides a year of tuition money for retraining as well as monthly housing allowances.
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.