Understanding Unemployment: September’s Report


September’s Unemployment Numbers

September was a tough month. Between Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, our nation was hit hard. Millions of Americans suffered the effects of these hurricanes and we will continue to feel the reverberations of these hurricanes for quite a while: from the human cost to the economic impact. While we use unemployment numbers to judge our nation’s economic health, let us not forget that there are many Americans that are facing disaster with bravery everyday (learn more about IAVA’s response and what you can do to help here).

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released “The Employment Situation” report, as it does monthly. The report states that the national unemployment rate was not impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria on the data. However it also notes that national estimates do not include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Overall, the American unemployment rate declined to 4.2 percent from 4.4 percent last month. Veteran unemployment is at 3.0 percent and post-9/11 veterans declined from 4.2 percent in August to 3.9 percent in September. Post-9/11 women veterans have an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent, which is lower compared to last month’s unemployment rate of 7.4 percent. Post-9/11 male veterans have an unemployment rate of 2.8 percent, which is lower compared to the 3.5 percent unemployment rate from last month.

Now Trending

Last month, we talked about why the post-9/11 unemployment rate, especially for post-9/11 women veterans, tends to fluctuate significantly from month to month. The big takeaway: the report does not ask many post-9/11 veterans so we are going to see the numbers change more, month to month, than the general population. Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 12.38.18 PM 

Yet, we know that post-9/11 women tend to have a higher unemployment rate than their male counterparts. But if the numbers vary month to month, how can we be sure?

The short answer is that we average it out. We look at the trend lines, which show us the general course or trajectory of unemployment numbers. From these lines, we can see that the post-9/11 women veteran unemployment rate trends above the total post-9/11 unemployment rate and the male post-9/11 unemployment rate. So even though the month to month numbers may show big swings, the overall trend line will show us what is going on over the course of months or years.

We can also see that overall, the unemployment rate is falling for all post-9/11 veterans since January 2014. This is great news; and matches what IAVA members reported in our latest member survey; six percent of IAVA members responded that they are currently unemployed and looking for work, the lowest number reported from our members in years.

What We Know

While post-9/11 women veterans have a higher unemployment rate than their male counterparts, they also tend to have higher education levels, lower rates of poverty, and higher median income than their civilian counterparts. While we should and are concerned that post-9/11 women veterans face a higher unemployment rate, we also know that women veterans are strong and powerful, and if given the tools to do so, they will be successful. Employed post-9/11 women veterans are more likely to take on professional or managerial roles and a greater percentage of women veterans have a bachelor’s degree than civilian women or male veterans.

IAVA will continue to elevate the success stories of our women veterans through the #SheWhoBorneTheBattle Campaign and we will continue to fight on Capitol Hill to improve veteran employment opportunities.

You can find out more about our thoughts on employment in our Policy Agenda. If you or someone you know needs help finding employment resources, our RRRP team is standing by.

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