Post-9/11 Veteran Unemployment Rate Ticks Upward

American Legion hiring fair.

Unemployment rates for all veterans and especially for post-9/11 veterans went up in July despite a rosy government jobs report Friday that showed the U.S. economy strengthening.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report for July put the national unemployment rate at 4.9 percent, the same as in June, while overall veterans' unemployment rates were at 4.7 percent, up from 4.2 percent in June, even as employers made far more hires than expected.

The jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans, called Gulf War II-era veterans by the BLS, was pegged at 5.9 percent, up from 4.4 percent in June and 4.0 percent in May. Male post-9/11 vets had an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent in July, while female post-9/11 vets had an unemployment rate of 7.0 percent, the BLS said.

Unemployment rates for post-9/11 veterans had hit double digits during the recession before steadily coming down since 2011, according to BLS statistics.

In 2011, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law a program giving employers tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans. Other programs also have encouraged companies and government agencies to hire veterans.

Jackie Maffucci, research director for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, cautioned against drawing conclusions from the latest statistics on post-9/11 veterans jobless rates.

"While seemingly a large jump in the post-9/11 generation, the smaller sample size of the population sometimes results in more dramatic changes in rates from month to month," Maffucci said.

"While one month does not a trend make, it will be important in the next few months to monitor whether unemployment among the newest generations goes back down, as employment continues to be a primary concern among IAVA members," she said.

The rise in veterans' unemployment came despite what Jason Furman, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, called a BLS report that projected continued growth for the economy.

"The economy added 255,000 jobs in July following robust job growth in June, as the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent and labor force participation rose," Furman said in a statement.

"U.S. businesses have now added 15.0 million jobs since private-sector job growth turned positive in early 2010, and the longest streak of total job growth on record continued in July," Furman said.

The overall positive jobs trends in the latest BLS report were hailed by Michelle Meyer, head of United States economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "This was everything you could have asked for, maybe more," Meyer told The New York Times. "We're seeing new entrants into the labor market, which implies a longer runway for the business cycle."

The July statistics were in contrast to numbers released last week showing disappointing economic growth in April, May and June. The April-June quarter was the third consecutive period in which the economy advanced at less than a 2 percent annual rate, the weakest stretch in four years.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at

Show Full Article