All veterans in the workforce had an unemployment rate of 5.3% for December, down a full percentage point from the 6.3% rate recorded in November, the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday.
For post-9/11 veterans, the drop in unemployment rates was even more pronounced -- from 6.9% in November to 5.1% in December, BLS said.
The rates for all veterans and the subset of post-9/11 veterans were significantly lower than that for the general population of 6.7% in December, which was unchanged from November.
The December report marked the end of a seesaw year for veterans in terms of unemployment.
The jobless rate for veterans spiked to double digits during the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring but gradually came down with some fluctuations, according to BLS reports.
However, veteran unemployment rates were still higher than the historic lows recorded in 2019. The unemployment rate for all veterans in December 2019 was 2.8%, the BLS said; for the entire year of 2019, the rate was 3.1%.
Despite improving rates for veterans and the unchanged rate for the general population, the BLS also reported that the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December in the first decline in total employment since last April.
"The decline in payroll employment reflects the recent increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and efforts to contain the pandemic," the BLS said.
The drop in unemployment rates for all veterans in December to 5.3% was "likely helped by the gains in the construction and manufacturing industries, which are major employers of veterans," according to Robert Frick, the corporate economist at the Navy Federal Credit Union.
The unchanged rate of 6.7% for the general population was likely "due to layoffs of about half a million jobs in the leisure and hospitality industries, in which relatively few veterans work," Frick said in a statement.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.