Veterans’ job prospects improved in August even as the national unemployment rate rose slightly, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday.
The unemployment rate for all veterans fell from 2.7% in July to 2.4% in August, with about 27,000 fewer veterans reporting they were unable to find steady work.
The decline among younger veterans was even more dramatic. BLS estimates the unemployment rate for that group last month was 1.9%, down from 3.4% in July and marking the lowest monthly level since April 2019 (when it was 1.7%).
Employment experts have cautioned that monthly estimates are subject to volatility due to sampling and survey issues. But the veterans figures show continued improvement in opportunity for veterans since the start of 2022, when the estimates for both groups was significantly above 3%.
In contrast, the national unemployment rate rose from 3.5% in July (its lowest mark since one month before the coronavirus pandemic began in America in February 2020) to 3.7%, the first monthly increase since January.
On Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre downplayed potential concerns about a one-month regression after months of positive employment news.
“We have talked about how we’re coming off historic economic growth,” she said. “And it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down. We’re expecting that to cool off just a bit as we’re going into that transition … and right now we’re still seeing a strong labor market.”
The veterans unemployment rate has generally outpaced the national estimate in recent years, thanks in part to extra transition and job assistance programs focused on former service members.
From August 2021 to last month, the number of veterans unable to find steady employment dropped by almost 100,000 individuals. About 8.5 million veterans are in the American workforce today.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.