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Veterans jobless rates drop to historic lows

Sep 4, 2015
In The News

Washington D.C. - The unemployment rate for veterans dropped to a seven-year low in August, and the rate for Iraq and Afghanistan war-era veterans fell to the lowest level since federal officials started tracking that population.

The news came the same day that Bureau of Labor Statistics officials announced the national unemployment rate in August had dropped to its lowest level since 2008, before President Obama took office.

Analysts have cautioned against making long-term assumptions based on the monthly figures, but the veterans and national rates for August continue a steady downward trend in the unemployment estimates over the past two years.

BLS officials said the unemployment rate for all veterans fell to 4.2 percent in August, a drop from 4.7 percent a month earlier and from 5.6 percent a year ago. The monthly mark hasn’t been that low since May 2008.

The figure translates into about 450,000 veterans nationwide looking for work. That estimate was over 1 million about four years ago and near 700,000 in early 2014.

Labor Department researchers didn’t begin tracking veterans from the “Gulf War II” era until September 2008, and had never recorded an unemployment rate for that group below 5.0 percent until last month. BLS estimated the August rate to be 4.7 percent, or roughly 134,000 young veterans unable to find work last month.

August was also the third time in the last year that the unemployment rate for younger veterans outpaced the national rate (5.1 percent in August.) The overall veterans rate have been below the national averages for almost four years straight.

The positive unemployment news Friday, released just before the start of Labor Day weekend, came despite job creation numbers falling short of economists’ estimates for the month. The U.S. economy added about 173,000 jobs in August, almost 50,000 fewer than what had been predicted.

White House and congressional officials have made veteran employment a major legislative focus in recent years, enacting a number of transition programs and conducting national campaigns to encourage employers to see veterans as a reliable, adaptable workforce.