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Ryan Britch | May 11, 2020

Read: What the April 2020 Unemployment Numbers Mean for Veterans – IAVA Offers Assistance for Vets with its Quick Reaction Force

During the month of April, our country experienced the highest spike in unemployment that we have had for nearly a century. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that total unemployment rose from 4.4 percent to 14.7 percent for the month of April. However, this report only covers the first two weeks of April, and the actual unemployment rate for the month could be higher.

BLS also reported that an additional 3.1 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance during the week ending on May 2nd, bringing the total of unemployment claims to 20 million in April and 33 million since the pandemic began. This is the highest since the BLS began recording seasonally adjusted initial claims. The leisure and hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard, with a 47 percent decrease in employment. In contrast, the manufacturing industry has only taken a dive of 10.4 percent.

Impact on Post-9/11 Veterans
The post-9/11 veteran unemployment rate has jumped from 4.1 percent to 13 percent, its highest levels since 2011. This is slightly higher than the total veteran unemployment rate of 11.7 percent. Both the veteran unemployment rate and the post-9/11 veteran unemployment rate continue to stay below the national unemployment rate, although the numbers continue to worsen.

Our nation is entering the tenth week of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it appears that many public health strategies to curb the spread of the disease are starting to ease up. Many states have begun to reopen their economies or have plans to do so in the near future. However, the economic damage may be already done, as 31 percent of Americans report being unable to pay rent. Our country may likely feel the economic impact for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, post-9/11 veterans will feel the impact of this crisis more so than other Americans. According to IAVA’s 10th Annual Member Survey, 35 percent of IAVA members report that it is difficult to cover their expenses in a typical month.

Additionally, veterans under 55 already have more credit card debt and lower savings account balances than their non-veteran peers. This means that post-9/11 veterans are less equipped to handle unemployment or a decrease in income than their non-veteran peers.

Breaking Numbers Up By Gender
The unemployment rate for female veterans rose to 14 percent, whereas the rate for male veterans rose to 11.4 percent. This figure is troublesome because female IAVA members are already more likely than their male counterparts to report difficulty covering their monthly expenses.

Graphic from IAVA’s 10th Annual Member Survey, released in March 2020

IAVA Has Your Back
We know employment is a top concern for IAVA members, and changes to employment can impact mental and physical health. That’s why we have built recommendations for policymakers to address veteran employment into our latest Policy Agenda: A Lasting Legacy, our roadmap for America. Check it out here.

We know that this time can be stressful, and IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF) is here to help! This program provides confidential 24/7 peer-to-peer support, comprehensive care management, and resource connections. To get connected to a Veteran Care Manager for immediate help anytime, day or night, please call 1-855-91RAPID or fill out our online form here. If you are a veteran or a veteran family member facing challenges, or if you have questions, QRF can help by providing 24/7 peer support and providing connections to quality resources so you can get back on your feet and meet your goals.

If you are currently experiencing a crisis, please contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1.800.273.8255, and press 1. Alternatively, use the Crisis Text Line by texting “RISING” to 741741.

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