Veterans’ Unemployment Rate Continues To Fall For The Third Month

Veterans’ Unemployment Rate Continues To Fall For The Third Month

The veterans’ unemployment rate fell for the third month in a row in the month of July. However, it still sits nearly double the level recorded before the pandemic started. On Friday, officials from the Bureau Labor Statistics stated the unemployment rate among veterans dropped to 7.9 percent last month, based on its monthly employment research. That figure means nearly 700,000 veterans are looking for work.

In June, that number was as high as 8.6 percent. In April, which was the first full month of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the number was 11.7 percent. This was the agency’s highest monthly rate in at least the last 20 years.

Over 1 million veterans reported being jobless in April as the national unemployment rate 14.7 percent. Even with the recent improvements, the veterans’ unemployment rate for last month was still more than double the level reported in February (3.6 percent). As recently as December, the rate was below 3 percent.

Almost 6.5 million Americans have been unemployed for roughly 15 weeks or more, according to BLS. Veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq War era also saw their rate drop from 10.3 percent in June to about 8.2 percent in July. The younger veterans have typically lagged behind the veteran population as a whole in finding work and trailed the country as a whole at several points in recent years.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers earlier this week urged House leaders to include a new veterans retraining proposal in the next coronavirus relief package. This is in view of the fact that several industries with higher rates of veteran employees have been particularly adversely affected by the ongoing international crisis.

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we had the lowest veteran unemployment rate in two decades,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Phil Roe, R-Tenn. “We owe it to our veterans to do everything we can do to get back there again.”

A congressional proposal would aim to create 12 months of training funding for individuals who were left jobless because of the pandemic. The proposal — the Veterans Economic Recovery Act of 2020 — released by the committee late last month would grant veterans who lost their jobs due to pandemic-related layoffs an extra year of GI Bill benefits for rapid retraining in new, “high demand” career fields.

The program would include only 35,000 veterans. Those who are already using other veteran education benefits would not be considered eligible. The idea has gained the backing of 17 veteran advocacy groups and several key members of the Senate. However, passing the measure as stand-alone legislation could prove difficult given the shortened congressional schedule this year due to the election.

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