For years it hasn’t been looking good for veterans trying to find a job after serving their country, but according to new data, veterans are finding it easier to be employed now more than ever.
According to the Military Times, a number of veteran service organizations and popular brand names began working on the problem and before we knew it, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that veteran unemployment rates for the latest generation of soldiers dropped below four percent in 2018:
The 3.8-percent annual unemployment rate for 2018 continues a seven-year trend of declines since 2011, when post-9/11 veteran unemployment peaked at 12.1 percent – more than triple the 2018 rate.
For veterans of all generations, the unemployment rate was similarly low, dropping to 3.5 percent from 3.7 percent last year.
These figures are below what economists have traditionally considered “full employment,” and some would say it’s worth celebrating — especially since the 3.8-percent rate was on par with nonveterans in 2018. And nationally, the economy is looking up, with the U.S. hitting three consecutive months of a 3.7 percent unemployment rate last year, a low the country hadn’t seen since the 1960s.
A good economy that employs its soldiers after they complete their service is definitely worth celebrating, and Robert Lerman, a labor economist at the Urban Institute tends to agree.
“Right now, I would say it’s a massively good time to look and find something,” said Lerman who added that the unemployment rate “calls for a big celebration.”
“It’s also something that we want to try to sustain, which is the harder part, but you know, for now, jobs are plentiful, and that’s a lot better than jobs not being plentiful,” he said.
While this is all good news, it’s not the end of the story. The Military Times noted that while employed veterans is a societal plus, it’s not the end of the road. With the economy and job market looking good, it’s time now to focus on getting veterans jobs that best suit them. This is important as many veterans report leaving their first jobs within the military in less than a year:
A 2016 Hiring Our Heroes study found that 44 percent of veterans leave their first post-military job within the first year. Part of the explanation there could be underemployment, or settling for a job below your skill level just to keep a paycheck coming in.
Armstrong said underemployment is a common complaint among veterans who transition into the civilian workforce.
This problem is being dealt with, however.
“The conversations and focuses of employers, as well as those who serve veterans in this space, are shifting from, ‘Let’s make sure you get a job’ to ‘Let’s make sure the job is a good fit,’” said Nick Armstrong, senior director of research and policy at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.
All we need to do is keep the economy rising and our veterans will have a much easier time finding meaningful work after they served our country.