On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Veteran unemployment data for the month of February. The unemployment rate for all Veterans was 6.9 percent in February—a decrease from 7.6 percent in January and still below the national average of 7.7 percent. For post-9/11 Veterans, the rate dropped to 9.4 percent in February compared to 11.7 percent in January. In 2012, over 1 million Veterans were unemployed but today that number has dropped down to 772,000.

In the first graph, we see the monthly unemployment rate for all Veterans since January 2010. The long-term trend shows a clear decrease.

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. Like the chart above, the chart immediately below captures 12-month averages for the periods ending each month since February 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 remains at 7.0 percent—still the lowest 12-month average unemployment rate since 2009.

This 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 decreased to 9.4 percent in February. The chart below demonstrates the declining unemployment rate over time. Because 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 over nearly three years.

However, as we can see below, the 12-month moving average unemployment rate for post-9/11 Veterans has now increased slightly.

Overall, the numbers above are encouraging—as is the declining national unemployment rate. But we know there is still more to be done. In this economy, too many Veterans still can’t find meaningful work, and we’re working every day to remedy that.

VA is collaborating with the White House and the Chamber of Commerce on hiring fairs across the country through the “Hiring Our Heroes” Program. We also urged 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 (VRAP).

If anything, today’s numbers reminds us that Veterans are finding work but there’s still much to be done. VA, in partnership with the White House and private sector, remains committed to ensuring that the unemployment rate for all Veterans continues its downward path.

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Published on Mar. 8, 2013

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  1. Michael McMahon March 9, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    I do not believe these numbers, as there are several different of unemployment figures, and the Administration uses the most favorable of the numbers or the U-3 numbers, which is solely based on those who are receiving unemployment benefits, and not the U-6 numbers, which takes into account those not receiving unemployment, those who are grossly underemployed, or those who have become so disheartened and have stopped looking for work. The unemployment numbers, quoted in most veterans circles is more like 25-30% for OIF/OEF/OND veterans, and about 20% for Desert Shield/Storm and The veterans between then and the start of OEF. That would be more inline with the U-6 numbers, which the Administration tries to keep out of the news. Never trust anything that comes from Politicians, Bureaucrats or Civil Servants, as their jobs depend on the better the numbers are. Veterans are able to see and communicate the reality amongst themselves better and more truthfully. Sorry to bust the Bubble!

    Michael McMahon
    Post Commander
    VFW Post 5533
    (and an unemployed Southern Watch Veteran, who is not counted by the Administration)

    • Brandon Friedman March 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm


      Your characterization of the U-3 numbers is inaccurate. From the BLS website FAQs:

      “Question: Is the count of unemployed persons limited to just those people receiving unemployment insurance benefits?”

      “Answer: No; the estimate of unemployment is based on a monthly sample survey of households. All persons who are without jobs and are actively seeking and available to work are included among the unemployed. (People on temporary layoff are included even if they do not actively seek work.) There is no requirement or question relating to unemployment insurance benefits in the monthly survey.”

      If you have evidence that the unemployment rate for all OEF/OIF/OND veterans is 25-30 percent, please provide it.

      • Joseph Simpson March 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

        The BLS has on several occasions contradicted themselves and used double talk to account for inaccurate numbers. There have also been several college studies that also contradict BLS numbers. Plus the over all credibility of the Department Of Veterans Affairs in anything they say has become an issue with Most Veterans based on history and personal experience, bottom line the VA cannot be trusted since they attempt to sugar coat everything they do to keep the American public from total outrage over the Real Truth on the suffering of countless veterans due to the direct negligence / violations of the VA and Regional Offices with the handling of claims, appeals and remands. There are several OIG Reports on the continued problems / violations with in the VA and regional offices. Veterans are giving up in large numbers, suicides and homelessness is alarming. Many of the homeless have given up and chose to be homeless rather then deal with the VA and the games VA employees play. Service centers are packed daily and No Jobs especially for older or disabled vets. Veterans seeking an education have problems with approval, paper work and then worry if the school will be paid or they will have to leave school. The truth is starting to come out, too many vets have major issues with the VA and they are speaking out more and more. The VFW has gone to Washington and there may also be a large scale protest planned due to the suffering of vets and their families.There is also a petition to demand action from the White House due to the over – whelming evidence against the Department Of Veterans Affairs and the fact Most if not All claims are valid . The VA needs to stop the games and start being accountable and honest before the outrage begins.

  2. Barbara Watkins March 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    What is being done for the pre 9/11 Vets who need a job?

Comments are closed.

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