March Veteran Jobs Rate Was the Best in Almost 20 Years

Soldiers, veterans and family members speak with representatives from dozens of employers, as well as educational institutions and veterans services Feb. 7, 2019 during a Fort Drum Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program career fair at the Commons. (Mike Strasser/Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)
Soldiers, veterans and family members speak with representatives from dozens of employers, as well as educational institutions and veterans services Feb. 7, 2019 during a Fort Drum Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program career fair at the Commons. (Mike Strasser/Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

The unemployment rate for veterans of all eras ticked up slightly to 2.9% from 2.7% in February, but was still the lowest recorded for March since 2000 as the overall employment situation for veterans and non-veterans continued to improve, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate in March was 2.9% for male veterans and 2.6% for female vets, continuing a trend in recent months of women veterans having a lower jobless rate than men, the BLS said in its monthly report, issued Friday.

The March unemployment rate for all veterans, 2.9%, was down from 4.1% in March 2018 and was nearly a full percentage point lower than the total unemployment rate of 3.8% in March 2019, the BLS report said. The 3.8% overall unemployment rate for March was unchanged from February, it added.

In raw numbers, BLS estimated that about 269,000 veterans were unemployed in March 2019, compared to 392,000 in March 2018.

For post-9/11 veterans, or "Gulf War-era II veterans" as they are classified by the BLS, the unemployment rate in March was 3.1%, compared to 5% in March 2018.

For Gulf War-era I veterans (who served from August 1990 to August 2001), the jobless rate was 1.9% in March compared to 3.1% in March the year before, the report said.

For Vietnam, Korea and World War II veterans, the unemployment rate in March was 2.8%, compared to 3.7% in March 2018, according to BLS.

Economists, veterans groups and think tanks generally warn against attempting to decipher trends from BLS monthly reports on veterans employment, citing a relatively small sample size that lends itself to variability.

The experts tend to attach more weight to annual averages, but those figures also point to an improving job market for veterans.

In its March report on veterans employment for all of 2018, the BLS said that the jobless rate for all veterans fell to an 18-year low of 3.5% in 2018, from its peak at 9.9% in 2011.

For post-9/11 veterans, the unemployment rate dropped from 4.5% in 2017 to 3.5% in 2018 -- the lowest rate recorded since the BLS began collecting the data in 2008.

Overall, BLS said that the jobless figures for major worker groups in the total population showed little or no change from February to March: adult men, 3.6%; adult women, 3.3%; teenagers, 12.8%; whites, 3.4%; blacks, 6.7%; Asians, 3.1%; and Hispanics, 4.7%.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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