Unemployed veterans dropped by more than half-a-million in last two years

Leo Shane III

A "Now Hiring" sign is shown in the window of a restaurant in Miami Beach, Fla., on Jan. 7, 2021. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
Veterans unemployment continued its steady recent decline in May, falling below 3% for the third consecutive month.

The employment statistic hasn’t been under that mark for three months since late 2019, a few months before the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the American economy and set veterans (and other workers) unemployment to historically high levels.

In May 2020, just a few weeks after the coronavirus pandemic started in America, the veterans unemployment rate was at 9%. Since then, the number of veterans struggling to find work has dropped by about 550,000 individuals.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2.7% of veterans looking for steady employment last month were unable to secure jobs, down from 2.9% in April. The figure translates to just under 250,000 veterans across the United States receiving joblessness benefits.

Among post-9/11 veterans, the figure was slightly higher — 3.2% — but still significantly below the 3.6% unemployment rate for the nation as a whole.

May was the fourth consecutive month that the post-9/11 unemployment number was less than 3.5%. The last time that happened was early 2019.

About 8.5 million veterans are participating in the American workforce today. Of that group, about 3.8 million served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars era, the largest of any single generation of veterans.

Roughly 900,000 veterans who served in the Vietnam War or earlier eras are still employed full time, according to federal estimates.

On Thursday, ahead of the official release of the unemployment estimates, President Joe Biden issued a statement based on initial economic indicators that “despite the global challenges we face, America is on the move.”

He called for lawmakers to invest in workers and emerging technologies, including items like electric vehicles.