Veterans unemployment remained largely unchanged in September even as the national jobless rate dropped from the previous month, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.

The overall veterans unemployment rate remained at 6.4 percent in September, the same level reported by the agency in August. The rate for veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars era rose slightly over that time frame, from 7 percent in August to 7.5 percent in September.

The figures translate into about 570,000 veterans looking for work last month, up almost 300,000 individuals from one year ago.

The veterans statistics still remain below the national unemployment rate. That figure dropped from 8.4 percent in August to 7.9 percent in September, the fifth consecutive month of declines since the jobless number peaked at 14.7 percent in April.

All of the jobs report figures sit well above rates complied in early 2020, before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic prompted business closures and home quarantine restrictions across America.

BLS officials said notable job gains in September occurred in industries focused on leisure and hospitality, retail trade, health care and business services. The numbers of state government and local education jobs declined, as many of those services remain partially or fully closed.

In a statement, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the latest jobs report showed the economic recovery of the last few months has “slowed” and that more work needs to be done to address the ongoing pandemic to reverse the job losses.

“The key to bringing our economy back is to make it safe for businesses to reopen and for millions to go back to work,” he said.

Lawmakers have been discussing a new economic stimulus package related to the ongoing coronavirus concerns, to include new job training programs for veterans left unemployed by the pandemic. However, talks between the White House and congressional leaders have stalled in recent days.

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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