Veterans unemployment rose in November even as the national jobless rate declined, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The unemployment rate among all veterans rose to 6.3 percent last month, up from 5.5 percent in October. That figure translates into about 552,000 veterans looking for employment last month, out of roughly 8.7 million working-age veterans who are able to work.
Similarly, the rate among Iraq and Afghanistan War era veterans — who make up the largest percentage of veterans in the American workforce today — rose from 6.2 percent in October to 6.9 percent in November. Unemployment among the earlier generation of veterans (Gulf War era) declined from 5.3 percent in October to 4.7 percent.
Even with the increase, the overall veterans jobless rate remains better than the national figure. The month veterans estimate has only been higher than the national rate once in the last four years.
Among all U.S. workers, the unemployment rate fell from 6.9 percent in October to 6.7 percent in November. It’s more than double what it was one year ago, before the coronavirus concerns prompted partial quarantines across the country and forced thousands of businesses into furloughs and layoffs.
The national unemployment rate rose as high as 14.7 percent this spring because of the pandemic, but has now declined each of the last seven months.
However, BLS officials reported on Friday that the number of long-term unemployed Americans (individuals who have been looking for work for 27 weeks or more) rose again in November, to about 3.9 million. That’s more than a third of the entire unemployed population.
In past years, November and December have usually meant lower unemployment estimates as more Americans find part-time, seasonal work. Given the ongoing pandemic, it’s unclear if federal researchers will see the same increases.
At least 14.2 million Americans have tested positive for coronavirus since the start of the outbreak in this country last spring. More than 276,000 have died from complications related to the virus.
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.