IAVA | May 7, 2018
Read: Understanding Unemployment: April’s Report
By The Numbers
Here on the East Coast, spring has finally sprung. And with the sun shining and temperatures warming up, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had some heartwarming news for us as well. For the seventh straight month, the national unemployment rate remained low; this month it is 3.9 percent, the lowest national unemployment rate in almost 20 years. While not the only marker of a healthy economy, it’s a great sign for workers or those that may soon enter the workforce; it’s graduation season, after all.
The veteran unemployment rate, including all eras of veterans, fell to 3.7 percent. However, the post-9/11 unemployment rate continued to be higher than the national and veteran population unemployment rate at 4.9 percent. It’s a far cry from just two months ago, when we saw the lowest unemployment rate for the post-9/11 generation. While certainly disappointing, it’s still too early to tell if this higher unemployment rate shows an unsettling trend, or if the past months have been outside the norm.
Remembering Women Veterans
As Mother’s Day approaches, let’s not forget that women veterans still face a higher unemployment rate, on average, than their male peers. Though the numbers can fluctuate a lot from month to month (as we’ve discussed in the past), the overall trend is that Post-9/11 women veterans have a higher unemployment rate. However, in the past two months, Post-9/11 women veterans have had a lower unemployment rate than their male peers: 3.2 percent versus 5.2 percent this month. Just as with the higher Post-9/11 unemployment rate overall, it’s too soon to tell if this is truly a change for the better or just two months of outliers. We will keep an eye on this trend to see if it continues.
But employment doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s been a turbulent month at the Department of Veterans Affairs, with former Secretary Shulkin’s departure, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson’s nomination and subsequent withdrawal, and the fall out at all levels of the VA, it is veterans who are stuck in the middle. Compound that with the fact that women veterans already face barriers to care and a lack of accepting culture at VA, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
That’s why now, more that ever, IAVA’s #SheWhoBorneTheBattle campaign is so important. We are shining a light on the triumphs of women veterans nationwide while also calling on VA to change it’s outdated culture, starting with its motto, and reforming VA to work for women veterans through the Deborah Sampson Act.