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Military veterans who served since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are more likely to be unemployed than their peers involved in earlier conflicts. The jobless rate for the most recent group of veterans was 7.2% in 2014, the Labor Department said this week. The figure is down from 9% in 2013—matching with steady improvement in the overall labor market—but remains elevated compared with other jobless measures. The jobless rate for all veterans was 5.3% last year.

1 - Elevated Rate

The jobless rate for post-2001 veterans has dropped from above 12% in 2011, but at 7.2% last year the measure was well above the 6% rate last year for Americans who didn’t serve in the military. Those who served in earlier conflicts have lower unemployment rates than the rest of the population. The jobless rate for veterans who served during the Persian Gulf War that began in the early 1990s was just above 4% last year.

2 - Veteran Payrolls

The broader U.S. economy recovered all the jobs lost during the recession by last year, but total employment of veterans remains below the level recorded before the recession began. That in part reflects that Vietnam-era veterans in their 60s are retiring, lowering the population of former military personnel in the workforce.

3 - Age Difference

The youngest veterans face the most difficult job prospects. The jobless rate for veterans between 18 and 24 years old was 16.2% last year. While high compared with older veterans, it is in line with elevated joblessness in the broader population for younger people and those without college educations.

4 - Gender Disparity

The unemployment rate for women in the U.S. is slightly lower than the rate for men. But that’s not the case for those who served in the military. The jobless rate for female veterans was 6% last year, compared with 5.2% for their male counterparts. The gap is even wider for post-2001 veterans. The jobless rate for those female veterans was 8.5%, versus 6.9% for men.

5 - Government Work

Veterans are more likely than the broader population to take another government job after they complete their military service. The public sector, including state and local governments, employed 20.7% of all working veterans last year. Nearly one-third of veterans with a service-connected disability worked for the government, the Labor Department said.

By Eric Morath
The Wall Street Journal
Published March 19, 2015

News Topic(s): Employment