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Unemployment Rate Down, But Not For Post-9/11 Veterans

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Good news came out with the Economic News Release, dated October 4th, 2019, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment rates are now at a 50 year low of 3.5% for September of 2019. This is down from the September 2018 rate of 3.7%. The last time unemployment rates were this low was December of 1969.

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If you break the numbers down further, the unemployment rate for adult men is 3.2% and for adult women, it is 3.1% for September 2019. It is also interesting to look at the different industries to see which ones are doing better than others. Jobs were added in fields such as health care, professional and business services, government, and transportation and warehousing.

On the other hand, jobs in retail trade went slightly down, and jobs in the mining, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, information, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality showed little change.

Unemployment Rates Goes Up For Post-9/11 Veterans

These numbers are all well and good for America, however, if you look at unemployment rates for Post-9/11 veterans as shown in this article by Military.com, you can see that things are not on the upward trend for all Americans, or even all veterans. Looking at the BLS statistics on this, you can see that under those classified as Gulf War-era II veterans, which are those who have served 2001-present, the unemployment rate has gone up to 4.5% in September 2019, from 3.9% in September 2018.

For men in this category, the rate went from 3.5% in September of 2018 to 4.0% in September 2019. For women in this category, the rate went from 6.0% in September 2018, to 7.0% in September 2019. Compared to all Americans, where men are at 3.2% for September 2019, and women are at 3.1%, women veterans have a higher unemployment rate than male veterans.

If you look at other types of veterans you can see that Gulf War-era I veterans, serving from August of 1990 to August of 2001, have an unemployment rate at 2.6% in September 2019, down from 2.8% in September 2018. For World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War era veterans, the unemployment rate is at 2.2% in September of 2019, down from 3.8% in September 2018.

It is important to note when looking at these numbers that veterans were not serving on active duty at the time of the survey, although they have been so previously. Veterans are all only counted in one time period, the most recent one, even if they have served in more than one.

You can also look at the rate of non-veterans, which are people who have never served in the military, which is 3.3% in September of 2019, down from 3.5% in September of 2018.

As to why there is a difference in the unemployment rate for all Americans, both civilian and veterans and Post-9/11 veterans, Jeremy Butler, chief executive officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, stated in the Military.Com article, “I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that a lot of companies are still struggling with what veterans can bring to their organizations.”

The difference between the unemployment rate for all Americans vs the rate for Post-9/11 veterans is something to keep an eye on. If the unemployment rate is going down, but the rate for Post-9/11 veterans is going up, something really needs to change. The truth is, veterans can bring a lot to their industries after serving in the military and it could be a matter of increased awareness within the American workforce.

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About the author

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.