The unemployment rate for veterans of every era since the Vietnam War fell below 3% in June, the first time those various generations of troops have reached that mark since early 2019.
According to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for all veterans in America in June was 2.7%, holding steady at that level for the second consecutive month.
The number has been less than 3% for four consecutive months now, which administration officials have called a sign of improving hiring and job stability across America.
The figure translates to about 235,000 veterans across America unable to find stable employment last month. In June 2021, that number was roughly 437,000 veterans.
The national unemployment rate was 3.6% for the fourth consecutive month, and BLS officials said that an estimated 372,000 non-farm payroll positions were added to the economy in June.
In recent years, veterans have generally outpaced the rest of the workforce in terms of employment rates. But younger veterans — those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — have struggled slightly more than their peers, posting higher unemployment rates than older veterans already established in the civilian workforce.
The Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans unemployment rate for June was 2.9%, the first time that group has dropped below 3% since May 2019. The rate for that generation of veterans reached as high as 13% in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020.
Individuals who left the military after September 2001 make up the largest single group of veterans in the civilian workforce today, comprising about 45% of nearly 8.4 million veteran employees.
The unemployment rate for veterans of the first Gulf War-era in June was 1.5%, and the rate for those from the peacetime period from the Vietnam War to the early 1990s posted an unemployment rate of 2.7%.
Veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War (BLS groups all of those older generations together) had a 5.1% unemployment rate last month. Of the estimated 6.3 million veterans from those eras still living in America today, less than 15% are still active in the civilian workforce.
As a result, unemployment rates for that group are prone to significant swings each month due to sampling issues. The rate for that group in June 2021 was 6.1%.
BLS officials said that most employment indicators have returned roughly to the same levels as February 2020, which was just weeks before the pandemic began in America. The national unemployment rate was 3.5% that month.
However, the number of long-term unemployed individuals — those jobless for 27 weeks or more — is still about 215,000 higher than before the pandemic’s start.
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.