Veteran Unemployment Rate Falls to 6.6 Percent Overall

The First Lady delivers remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Business Steps Up: Hiring Our Heroes” event in Washington, D.C., Nov. 10, 2011. Photo courtesy of the White House.

The unemployment rate for all veterans is at a three-year low of 6.6 percent and well below the national average of 8.1 percent according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment among post-9/11 veterans, however, remains above the national average at 10.9 percent although a 32-month trend is downward according to VAntage Point.

While much remains to be done, since January 2012, post-9/11 Veterans have now experienced the lowest unemployment rate in any combined eight-month period since 2008—with the rate reaching single digits in five of those months. Additionally, the trend over the past 32 months—since January 2010—remains downward for America’s most recent Veterans.

Job fairs sponsored by “Hiring Our Heroes” continue nationwide. The September job fair schedule is available HERE.

Additional information on veterans employment and military spouse employment is available through Joining Forces, the White House program that serves military, military spouses and veterans.

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Veterans Unemployment Rate Drops Again

Photo courtesy of themilitarywallet.com

The corporate focus on providing jobs to veterans seems to making an impact. Labor statistics released Friday show that unemployment among veterans dropped for a sixth month in a row.

The jobless rate among veterans of all generations stands at 6.9 percent, down from 8.6 percent a year ago.

Among veterans who served after 9-11, unemployement is still above the national rate of 8.3 percent. The Post 9-11 veterans unemployment rate is 8.9 percent but that’s down from 12.4 percent in July 2011.

There is concern to keep the trend going. Some advocates are calling on the federal government to extend tax credits for companies that hire veterans. Those tax credits are due to run out at the end of 2012.

Veterans Unemployment Falls, Yet Rate Is 9.2 Percent

Photo courtesy of themilitarywallet.com

Unemployment among Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is one of the more closely monitored statistics. Friday, federal statistics showed that Veteran unemployment data for April for Gulf War II-era Veterans fell more than a full percentage point to 9.2 percent.

The VA blog VAntage reports that  since January 2012, post-9/11 Veterans have experienced the lowest unemployment rate in any combined four-month period since 2008 and the trend remains downward for the past 28 months for America’s most recent Veterans.

Veteran unemployment statistics are notorious for statistical swings so trends are more important than one-time monthly statistics.

Veterans Employment Resources:

Military Retirement = Going Back to School for Both of Us

Rex Temple and Liisa Hyvarinen Temple, April 22, 2010, the day he returned from a year's deployment in Afghanistan.

When they tell you retiring from the military is a gateway to a whole new life – they mean it. These last few months going through my husband’s separation from the United States Air Force after 28 years of service has at times felt like we moved to a new country and learned a whole new society and a language – and we stayed in the same town where we’ve been since 1996!

I am the first to say we are incredibly blessed to have awesome retirement benefits. But learning to navigate them has been quite interesting. Just getting my husband’s entire medical record transferred from the military to the Veterans Administration has taken months coupled with multiple medical evaluation appointments. Fortunately my husband is currently using his educational benefits and attending graduate school fulltime so we don’t have to worry about taking time off from a civilian job to go to all these appointments. He also transferred 28 months worth of educational benefits to me so I will be able to go back to school and update my skills. That transfer will not only pay for my tuition and help with my books but it will also pay a housing allowance, which will help with our mortgage payment. (The housing allowance varies based on location and is higher if you attend a physical “brick and mortar” school versus take courses just online.)

Being able to access your spouse’s educational benefits is a great benefit for military spouses who may need updated skills to help spruce up a resume that reflects all those mandatory PCS (Permanent Change of Station) moves as they followed their spouse from one duty station to the next. (For more information about transferring education benefits to your dependents, check here: http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2009/0409_gibill/ ) Keep in mind also that this fall you can use these benefits to pursue non-college degrees, on the job and apprenticeship training, flight programs and correspondence training.

(More on that here: http://www.gibill.va.gov/benefits/post_911_gibill/Post911_changes.html – be sure to scroll down the page to heading “Effective October 1, 2011)

SMSgt. Rex Temple with his parents, Raymond "Skip" Temple and Maxine Temple, and his wife, Liisa Hyvarinen Temple, during his retirement ceremony, April 6, 2011, at the MacDill Air Force Base Officers' Club.

The hardest part about retirement is of course deciding what you will do now and where you will go. Many retiring military families face the decision about whether to stay in the area where their last duty station is at or moving to someplace else – for example closer to their families. In our case my husband has not been home for Christmas in 26 years and ultimately it would be nice to get closer to his family (my family lives overseas in a very cold climate so that’s not an option).  But mix in the current tight job market and the high unemployment among veterans – and deciding where you will enjoy your retirement is not so simple. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate for veterans who have served since September 2001 was 13.3% in June, up from 12.1% the month before. In June 2010 it was 11.5%.

Another hurdle has been dealing with friends and family. Retirement is a difficult process for anyone who has had an active career – whether it’s a civilian career or one in the military. Making the transition can take an emotional toll especially these days when you may have “survivor’s guilt” for being able to leave the service and your buddies and their families are still facing many more deployments and night and days filled with worry and separation from their loved ones.  Many friends and family are eager to spend time with you and constantly ask what your plans are for the future. When you don’t have an answer, having that conversation gets old quite quickly.

One of the most amazing blessings about retirement has been the ability to spend true quality time together. We recently were separated for 15 months when my husband first trained for a deployment out-of-state and then spent a year in Afghanistan. Although my husband returned from Afghanistan in the end of April 2010, life has not really returned to “normal” until a few weeks ago. Decompressing as a couple after a combat tour takes time and getting used to being together is also a time-consuming process. We have enjoyed gourmet cooking together, going on long walks with our dogs and getting into a routine of working out together at the gym.  Surprisingly this last deployment brought us much closer together as a couple because it was so incredibly demanding on our relationship and it’s been great to build on that strong bond even further. Now we get to go back to school together although we are studying vastly different subjects. But it will be fun to see just who has the higher GPA!

Florida Guard: Coming Off Active Duty, Looking for Work

Finding a job is a concern for many Floridians with the state’s unemployment rate above the national average. But, the jobless rate is even higher among returning National Guard members and Reservists according to the Florida National Guard.

Members of Florida's 53rd Brigade returned in December 2010 having been deployed to Iraq and Kuwait since January.

About 2,500 members of the Florida National Guard’s 53rd Brigade returned home in December after serving a year in Kuwait and Iraq. And many will transition from military service to looking for a job.

Ron Tittle, a spokesman for the Florida National Guard, was there when Florida’s governor asked how many in the 53rd would be unemployed and  looking for work when they came off active duty. Tittle estimates 30-to-40 percent raised their hand.

“Now as far as the numbers, I think its settled down to somewhere around 20 percent of that deployed unit,” Tittle said. “That’s kind of a sense across the board what we’re dealing with and trying to address. You know we’re just trying to reach out and lean forward to make sure we’re doing all we can do to make jobs available.”

So the Florida National Guard cosponsored a military job fair for veterans and returning Guard and Reservists.

But its tough in the current job market.

A recent report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee found unemployment highest among the most recent veterans:

  • Veterans who served on active duty since September 2001 have the highest unemployment rate. In 2010, the unemployment rate for these veterans averaged 11.5 percent, compared to the overall veteran-unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, and 9.4 percent unemployment rate for nonveterans.
  • New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the unemployment rate of Post-9/11 veterans at 10.9 percent in April, 2.2 percentage points lower than it was one year ago.

A recent New York Times article cites critics who say proposed changes in labor laws to require better reporting and collecting of veteran hiring data does not do enough. A Department of Labor web site is taking comments on the proposed changes through July 11th.

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