According to estimates released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate last month among all veterans across the nation was 2.8%. That’s down from 3.2% in December, and continues a yearlong streak of positive employment news for former military members.
Before last year, that unemployment estimate had not been below 3% for two consecutive months since May 2019. But BLS officials said their surveys showed significant success among veterans in finding steady work throughout 2022, sending the jobless rate below that mark for nine consecutive months before the streak was snapped in December.
Outside economic experts have cautioned against overanalyzing a single month’s jobs report, saying that varied sample sizes for subgroups such as veterans can result in some volatility with the estimates.
The unemployment rate for veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars era, for example, jumped from 3% in December to 3.8% in January.
BLS officials noticed a similar sharp jump in the youngest group of working-age veterans following surveys in January 2022. That was also the only month last year that the Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans unemployment rate topped the national average, suggesting that job prospects still remain stable for that group.
The national unemployment rate in January was 3.4%, down slightly from 3.5% in December and the lowest mark for that monthly estimate since 1969. The U.S. national rate swelled to as high as 14.7% during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2.8% unemployment mark for veterans translates into about 240,000 individuals able to work but unable to find full-time employment. About half of all veterans in America today (9.3 million) are retired or dealing with injuries that make them unable to hold a job.
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.