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2014: A banner year for post-9/11 vet employment

January 9, 2015 (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The past year may have been the best ever for employment of the latest generation of veterans, government data show.

The annual unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans in 2014 was 7.2 percent, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

That's nearly 2 points below the 2013 annual rate of 9 percent and nearly 5 points down from the 2011 rate of 12.1 percent, BLS records show. It's also the lowest annual rate ever charted in the metric's seven-year history, though by a narrow margin.

Post-9/11 veteran unemployment still lagged the comparable 2014 annual unemployment rate for the overall population, which was a not-seasonally-adjusted 6.2 percent.

Regardless, 2014 was a historic year for employment of the newest generation of veterans, by several measures.

The only comparable year was the first that the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was measured by the BLS: 2008. Government statisticians began tracking the monthly jobs report only in September of that year, and calculated a 7.3 percent annual rate.

In November 2008, the post-9/11 veteran unemployment rate was charted at 5.6 percent. For five years, no monthly unemployment rate came anywhere close to that low. But 2014 saw two post-9/11 veteran unemployment rates below 6 percent, including a new low of 5.3 percent in May.

The rate took dramatic turns up and down in 2014, with every monthly jobs report except for one either jumping or falling at least 1 full point compared with the previous month.

That held true for December's 6.9 percent rate, a climb from the 5.7 percent mark posted in November. Such volatility is characteristic of the measure, which can fluctuate dramatically due to its small sample size. Rather than draw broad conclusions from such changes in the monthly reports, statisticians advise looking for broader trends, such as the sort of annual rates released Friday.

As a whole, the nation added 252,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate dipped to 5.6 percent from November's 5.8 percent.

For veterans of all generations, unemployment stood at 4.7 percent in December, up slightly from November's 4.5 percent mark.

The annual unemployment rate for all veterans was 5.3 percent in 2014. That's a significant improvement from 2013's 6.6 percent rate, but it doesn't represent the historic low that post-9/11 veterans saw. Lower annual rates were recorded for all veterans in 2006 and 2007, when the rate stood at 3.8 percent, as well as 2008, when it was 4.6 percent.

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