Year-End Review: Post-9/11 Veteran Unemployment in 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, unemployment rates for post-9/11 veterans, especially for young post-9/11 veterans, remain higher than those of other veterans and the national average. While 2013 showed progress, there is still work to be done to improve the employment situation and economic opportunities for the youngest post-9/11 veterans, who continue to experience extremely high rates of unemployment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released unemployment numbers this morning for December 2013, showing that overall unemployment numbers in 2013 for post-9/11 veterans have decreased since the start of the year. However, they remain high, with post-9/11 veterans experiencing an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent as of December 2013 compared to the national average of 6.7 percent as of December 2013. It is also higher than the unemployment rate for all veterans, which was 5.5 percent in December 2013.

Throughout 2013, post-9/11 veterans had unemployment rates that were consistently higher than those of other veterans as well as the national average. In January 2013, post-9/11 veterans experienced their highest unemployment rates of the year at 11.7 percent. The lowest unemployment rates experienced by post-9/11 veterans occurred in May 2013, at 7.3 percent. From month to month, post-9/11 veterans saw the greatest variance in unemployment rates as well, compared to other veterans and the national average. However, at least part of this variation is due to the smaller sample size of post-9/11 veterans used for monthly employment data as compared to other groups.

Unemployment rates during 2013 also varied according to age group, with the youngest veterans experiencing much higher unemployment rates. Among post-9/11 veterans aged 18-24 in December 2013, the unemployment rate was 15.6 percent, compared to 22.7 percent in December 2012. In December 2012, Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans aged 25-34 experienced the second highest unemployment rates by age group at 10.3 percent, a trend that continued in December 2013, with their unemployment rates for this period being 8 percent. From December 2012 to December 2013 the national average for those aged 18-24 decreased from 12 percent to 11.4 percent, however, for those aged 25-34, unemployment rates actually increased from 6.4 to 6.8 percent.

Young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan can benefit from both vocational and educational training programs, as these young veterans are less likely than their civilian counterparts to have a college degree, which can play a key role in being hired.

Veterans who are facing hardship due to being underemployed or unemployed can contact IAVA’s Rapid Response Referral Program team to get connected with resources to help them. Contact RRRP directly by calling 855-91-RAPID (855-917-2743), emailing, or visiting RRRP’s highly qualified staff of case managers assist veterans with employment, education, housing, mental health, and other services.

To support veterans transitioning from combat to career, IAVA connects veterans with resources and potential employers. IAVA has organized employment readiness events, working with employers including Google, LinkedIn, Pimco, Lincoln Center, Advertising Week, Cisco Systems, and Futures, Inc.

Additionally, IAVA has pushed for legislative solutions to address veterans’ unemployment, including through the enactment of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. The law provides tax credits up to $9,600 for each veteran a business hires, and mandates the Transition Assistance Program and strengthens it with resume and career counseling. The law also translates military certifications into similar jobs in the civilian workforce.

We help transitioning veterans receive their benefits.

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