By LAUREN BAILEY
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released veteran unemployment data for the month of December. The unemployment rate for all veterans was 7 percent—still below the national average of 7.8 percent. For post-9/11 veterans, the rate was 10.8 percent. Most importantly, the annual jobless rate for post-9/11 vets was 9.9 percent in 2012; a significant drop from the annual average in 2011 of 12.1 percent.
While there is more work to do, it’s very clear that the unemployment rate among all veterans—to include America’s newest veterans—is headed in the right direction.
Because chunks of data are often better indicators of real movement, another way to view the trend is by looking at the moving (or rolling) average. There has been a modest—but definitive—decline in the unemployment rate of veterans. The current 12-month average unemployment rate for all veterans
is 7.2 percent.
This is significant because the moving 12-month average is a far more conservative measure than the month-to-month
data. When we see movement in the rolling average, we can be
confident that the unemployment rate among veterans is, indeed, changing.
Post-9/11 veterans are also continuing to experience a downward trend in unemployment. For Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans (or Gulf War II-era veterans), the monthly unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 10.8 percent in December.
Because the month-to-month figures for this demographic are highly volatile, the longer term trend is a more reliable measure that continues to show a consistent decline over nearly three years. This is the strongest sign yet of recovery in the area of veteran employment following the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.
As expected, the falling unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans is reflected in the 12-month moving average. The rate has consistently fallen—modestly but definitively— throughout 2012. The rate over the past 12 months has now fallen to 9.9 percent.
The numbers above are encouraging, but we know our work isn’t done—and that there’s still much to do. In this economy, too many veterans still can’t find meaningful work, and we’re working every day to remedy that.
That’s why VA is collaborating with the White House and the chamber of commerce on hiring fairs across the country through the “Hiring Our Heroes” Program. It’s also why we’re urging veterans to prepare themselves for the job market by taking advantage of programs like the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the veterans Retraining and Assistance Program.
If anything, today’s figure reminds us
that there’s still much work to be done. VA, in conjunction with the White House, remains committed to ensuring that the unemployment rate for all veterans continues its downward path.