Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Veteran unemployment data for the month of December.

The unemployment rate for all Veterans was 5.5 percent last month—a decrease from 6.7 percent in November and more than a point below the national average of 6.7 percent. This is the lowest Veteran unemployment has been in five years.

For post-9/11 Veterans, the rate dropped to 7.3 percent in December, compared to 9.9 percent in November – but a when compared to 10.8 percent in December 2012 it’s even more significant.

In short, more Veterans are getting hired  due to a national focus on hiring Veterans. That is good news, but there is still much more to do to ensure Veterans continue to find meaningful employment. We often send out information on Twitter or Facebook highlighting programs or opportunities for Veteran employment, and as a Veteran I find it gratifying to see the country working to help get our Vets back on their feet in so many ways. From the tech industry, to Red Cross-hosted job fairs, to training in the food service industry, Operation Good Jobs to the National Cemetery Administration’s training program for homeless Veterans, the efforts to combat Veteran unemployment continue to put our Vets to work.

Included below are graphs to illustrate the unemployment rate for all Veterans and post 9-11-Veterans. Below, you can see the monthly unemployment rate for all Veterans since January 2010. The long-term trend shows a clear decrease.

unemployed vets

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. The chart below captures 12-month averages for the periods ending each month since January 2010. What it shows is a modest decline in the unemployment rate of Veterans over the long term. The current 12-month average unemployment rate for all Veterans stands at 6.57 percent—a modest drop since November and the lowest 12-month average unemployment rate since 2009.

unemployed vets moving avgThis matters 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 are confident that there is real movement in the unemployment rate.

For post-9/11 (or Gulf War II-era) Veterans, the monthly unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent in December from 9.9 percent in November. The chart below shows the rates since January 2010.

post 9/11 vetsBecause the month-to-month figures for this demographic are volatile, the longer term trend is a more reliable measure that continues to show a consistent decline for over three years. The 12-month moving average slightly dropped from 9.23 to 8.94 percent, and in the below graph, you can see the overall decline in the rate since January 2010.

post 9/11 vets movingThese stats are encouraging. Even though in certain demographic groups we still see a higher unemployment rate than the national average, there is a clear overall decline in unemployment. That being said, we know there’s still more work to be done. VA is working daily to help remedy that through collaboration with the White House and the Chamber of Commerce “Hiring our Heroes” program, and in encouraging businesses to consider hiring veterans.

Efforts in this area also tie into our focus on increasing access to Veteran benefits and combating Veteran homelessness. By making Veterans aware of their benefits – in this case the educational and training benefits – we’re increasing access and helping to put Veterans on the path towards meaningful employment and a successful career. And Veterans who are trained and employed have the resources to get off the streets.

I know the value of these programs, training and the importance of employment to one’s self-confidence. My coworkers – many of them Veterans themselves – also know this, and VA’s entire team is committed to helping those who have served us. Our work will continue to help our Veterans.

Find more information about training and education opportunities, vocational rehabilitation, and the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program on the VA website.

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Published on Jan. 13, 2014

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