Veterans Employment Holds Steady as Experts Warn of Coming Downturn

City of Jacksonville's Week of Valor Veterans and Military Job and Resources Fair.
Rear Adm. Mary Jackson, commander, Navy Region Southeast, speaks with Laura Harrington and William Saunders at the City of Jacksonville's Week of Valor Veterans and Military Job and Resources Fair. (U.S. Navy/Seaman Michael Lopez/Released)

Unemployment rates for veterans essentially held steady in February as the economy added 273,000 jobs.

But the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was mostly compiled before the potential impact from the coronavirus could be gauged, which may affect future reports.

The jobless rate for all veterans was 3.6% in February, compared to 3.5% in January and 2.7% in February 2019, the BLS report said.

For post-9/11 veterans, the unemployment rate in February was 4.5%, compared to 4.4% in January and 3.4% in February 2019, it found.

Overall, the nation's unemployment was little changed at 3.5% in February, a tick below the 3.6% in January, and remained in the range of a 50-year low.

"The unemployment rate has been either 3.5% or 3.6% for the past 6 months," reflecting the resilience of the economy, the report stated.

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In a statement accompanying the report, BLS Commissioner William Beach said that the economy added 273,000 jobs in February, up from 223,000 in January.

"Notable employment gains occurred in health care and social assistance, food services and drinking places, government, construction, professional and technical services, and financial activities," he added.

In response to the positive BLS report, President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: "JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!!!"

However, economists and market analysts cautioned that the BLS data, much of it compiled in mid-February, did not reflect the potential impact of the coronavirus spread in the U.S., the stock market plunge in late February, and the expected downturn in consumer spending from travel restrictions and limits on public gatherings.

"This could be the last perfect employment report the market gets for some time," Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, told CNBC.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at

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