Veterans Unemployment Rate Nears Record Low for October

Unemployment rate. Getty Images
Unemployment rate. Getty Images

The veterans unemployment rate dropped again in October to 2.9 percent, continuing a downward trend begun in 2010 when the nation was pulling out of the 2008 recession, the Labor Department reported.

The decline from 3.4 percent in September to 2.9 percent in October was across the board for veterans of all eras, from World War II and Vietnam to the post-9/11 generation of veterans, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its monthly report for October, released Nov. 2. It's one of only a few times in nearly two decades that the overall veterans unemployment rate has dipped below 3 percent, following a record-making drop to 2.7 percent last October.

In 2010, veterans unemployment hit a high of 8.7 percent before beginning its gradual decline. Unemployment for non-veterans trended above 9 percent that year.

While unemployment for all veterans fell from 3.4 to 2.9 percent in October, overall unemployment was unchanged at 3.7 percent, even as the economy added 250,000 jobs in October. The added jobs were mainly in the fields of health care, manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing, BLS said in the new report.

The overall civilian unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in October, unchanged from September, according to BLS.

For post-9/11 veterans, classified as "Gulf War-era II veterans" by BLS, the unemployment rate was 3.1 percent in October, compared to 3.9 percent in September.

For "Gulf War-era I" -- the veterans of "Desert Storm" and the Gulf deployments of the 1990s -- the unemployment rate was 2.7 percent in October, compared to 2.8 percent in September.

For World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans, the unemployment rate in October was 3.0 percent in October, compared to 3.8 percent in September.

BLS also reported that wages rose 2.8 percent from January through September and productivity was up 2.8 percent in the third quarter of 2018. In addition, the nation still had 7.1 million job openings in October, a high for the year, BLS said.

In a statement accompanying the report, BLS Commissioner William Wiatrowski said Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in Florida on Oct. 10, "had no discernible effect on the national employment and unemployment estimates for October."

As a candidate, President Donald Trump disparaged the BLS statistics showing declining unemployment and an improving economy as bogus, but he has touted the numbers as evidence that his policies are working since taking office.

In his latest campaign rallies supporting Republicans in the midterm elections, he has repeatedly cited the addition of 250,000 jobs in October while putting his main focus on the immigration issue.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com.

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