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BLS Reports Increase in Vets’ Unemployment Rates in December 2015

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported that the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 veterans* increased from 4.2 percent in November 2015 to 5.7 percent in December 2015. Among all veterans, unemployment rates increased from 3.6 percent in November 2015 to 4.8 percent in December 2015. The national unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.0 percent in December.

Since 2012, unemployment rates have shifted downward, which is good news for our economic outlook. However, post-9/11 veterans still have unemployment rates that are consistently higher than the national average and higher than those of nonveterans. The figures below show the changes in national averages for unemployment among all veterans, post-9/11 veterans and nonveterans from 2012 to the present. Both monthly and annual averages have shown a downward trend, and the national unemployment rate remains at its lowest point since April 2008. Over the course of this past year alone, unemployment for post-9/11 veterans has decreased from 7.9% to 5.7%, while for veterans as a whole has decreased from 5.3% to 4.8%.

Annual Unemployment 2012-2015

Monthly unemployment 2012-2015

While these numbers show a positive trend, there is room for improvement, especially for younger veterans and minorities within the veteran population. These trends indicate a need for continued outreach and policies aimed at improving employment outcomes for the newest generation of veterans, a need that will only increase as more veterans return from service.

In 2016, IAVA encourages our nation’s policy makers and leaders to invest in the success of veterans and military service members. While the unemployment rate has shown improvement, there is more to career success than obtaining a job. Many veterans continue to struggle with underemployment, including part-time work and positions that do not utilize their full skill set. This year will be key to ensuring that new veterans not only transition to civilian life successfully, but also obtain fulfilling educational and career opportunities that make the most out of their leadership skills, determination and resilience.

For more suggestions on how the public, private and non-profit sectors can work together to strengthen support for veterans in the workplace, please see IAVA’s 2015 Policy Agenda.

* 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.

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) emailing transition@iava.org.

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