By Debbie Gregory.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their monthly edition of The Employment Situation for March 2014. The numbers were overwhelmingly positive for Veterans, especially Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The BLS releases a monthly report which gives a broad overview of employment in the country. The March, 2014 report shows that unemployment is down, almost across the board.
The overall Veteran unemployment rate is down about half a point from February, and is now at 6.0%. This statistic is down more than a point from March, 2013, when it was 7.1%. By comparison, the national unemployment rate for non-Veterans is at 6.7%, only down .07% from March, 2013, when it was 7.4%.
Desert Storm Veterans, referred to in the report as Gulf War I, and Veterans of WW II, Korea and Vietnam all saw drops in unemployment from 2013, down approximately 1.5%. Veteran unemployment rates for these conflicts remain one to two percent below the national average.
Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who have served in the Global War on Terrorism, named in the report as Gulf War II Veterans, saw historic monthly and yearly drops, which did not parallel with drops in the non-Veteran demographics for their age group.
For March, 2014, the Gulf War II Veterans’ unemployment rate was 6.9%. This number is down from 9.0% from last month and, more importantly, down from 9.2% in March 2013. That is a 2.3 point drop from March 2013! These numbers compare with the non-Veteran employment rates at more than three times the improvement over the past year, as non-Veteran unemployment only dropped .07 points from 7.4% in March, 2013 to 6.7% last month.
Gulf War II Veteran men dropped 1.5 points from last year (8.7% – 7.2%). This is more than a 50% gain on non-Veteran men, whose unemployment improved from 7.9% to 7.0% since March, 2013. The Gulf War II total Veterans and Veteran men unemployment rates remain just higher than the non-veteran averages.
But women Gulf War II Veterans saw huge gains in employment. Women Gulf War II Veterans were reported to have only a 5.2% unemployment rate according to the BLS report. This number is down 4.7 points from February’s 9.9%, and down 6.6 points from March 2013’s 11.8%. These numbers also do not parallel significant drops in the non-Veteran statistics for women of the same age range, whose totals dropped only .06 points since last March, and are actually higher than the Veteran mark at 6.3%.
It seems like initiatives to hire Veterans, especially female Veterans, are working. However, MilitaryConnection.com mentioned in a recent article that monthly reports don’t always provide the most accurate, long term, numbers of Veteran unemployment rates. This statement remains true. Next month could easily see the Gulf War II Veteran unemployment rates back up to 9% or greater. But, for April, let us celebrate the improvement of Veteran employment issues and continue to promote Veteran employment, Veteran jobs and companies that make it a point to hire Vets.