Officials from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday said the veterans unemployment rate for last month was 2.9%, up slightly from 2.6% in March. It’s the first time that figure has stayed below 3% for two months in a row since early 2019, before the pandemic caused business closures and unemployment spikes across the country.
For the country as a whole, the economy added about 428,000 jobs in April, but the unemployment rate stayed at 3.6% for the second consecutive month.
In a statement following the BLS report, President Joe Biden called the news proof that the country is experiencing “the strongest job creation economy in modern times.”
One year ago, in April 2021, the jobless rate for veterans was 5.2% and the national rate was 6.1%.
Unemployment among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war era rose slightly, from 3.0% in March to 3.4% in April. That group makes up the largest generation of veterans in the U.S. labor force today, with about 3.8 million workers.
About half of the estimated 260,000 veterans looking for work last month belong to that younger group. One year ago, that figure was roughly 480,000 veterans looking for full-time employment.
Veterans unemployment has been a particular focus of the White House and Congress in recent years, with research showing that making a successful transition to civilian life can ease a host of potential stressors for military families.
A separate BLS report last month found that nearly one in four veterans (23%) was employed in local, state or federal government jobs in 2021.
Manufacturing, business service jobs, education and health services were the largest other industries for veterans to find work, making up about one-third of all veterans jobs last year.
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.