BLS Reports Decrease in Veterans’ Unemployment Rates in April 2016

Today the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported that the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 veterans* decreased from 6.3 percent in March 2016 to 4.1 percent in April 2016. Among all veterans, unemployment rates decreased from 4.5 percent in March to 3.9 percent in April 2016. The national employment rate remained unchanged at 5.0 percent in April 2016.


As May is Mental Health Awareness month, IAVA would like to focus on how mental health impacts veterans’ employment after service. While not all veterans face mental health challenges after service, those who do may have more difficulty finding a job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report employment data for veterans based on mental health specifically, but many veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and other conditions have a service-connected disability rating.

In their 2015 Employment Situation of Veterans, BLS reports that veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 60 percent or higher were less likely to be in the labor force than their counterparts with a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or less. This means they were less likely to be either employed or actively seeking employment. BLS also reported that the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent for veterans with a higher rating, compared to just 4 percent for those with a lower rating. Those with higher disability ratings stemming from mental health challenges are likely included in this group, encountering more obstacles to employment than other veterans.

Research has also shown that college-educated veterans have a difficult time finding employment if they suffer from PTSD. Veterans with PTSD are also less likely to be employed compared to their peers with other mental health challenges. This is a key area for concern, as an estimated one in five veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD. In IAVA’s 2014 Member Survey, among those who were unemployed but not looking for work, about one-third stated that this was because of concern about their mental health challenges.

As more new veterans return from service, many will face challenges in transitioning to civilian employment. Mental health challenges can serve as an additional obstacle to a career, so we must remain focused on improving both quality of care and access to care for all veterans and service members. For more suggestions on employing the newest generation of veterans and increasing access to mental health care, please see IAVA’s Policy Agenda.

For veterans who are facing hardship due to being underemployed or unemployed, we encourage you to contact our Rapid Response Referral (RRRP) team to get connected with resources to help you. Contact us directly by calling the toll free number: 855-91-RAPID (855-917-2743) or emailing

* Unemployment rates for the Post 9/11 generation tend to show more variability, in large part because of the small population sample size used to calculate this rate.

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