The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the February 2013 data on unemployment among military veterans March 8. The overall unemployment rate dropped significantly from January, 7.6 percent to 6.9 percent. The February rate was little changed from the February 2012 rate of 7 percent. The BLS first began tracking the unemployment rate for veterans in May, 2006. The lowest annual unemployment rate for veterans was in 2007, when it averaged 3.8 percent. The highest annual rate was in 2010, with 8.7 percent. The annual unemployment rate for veterans in 2012 was 7 percent.
The BLS estimated that there are 21.5 million veterans. Some 11.1 million are counted in the labor force as working or looking for work. The remaining 10.4 million veterans are not in the labor force and not counted for unemployment rate purposes. The majority of those veterans are from the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam-era, 6.9 million, and most are likely retired. The 10.3 million employed veterans represent 7.3 percent of all employed Americans. They made up 13.2 percent of the total labor force. The largest number of employed veterans are ages 45 to 54, 2.7 million. The largest number of veterans are over 65, 9.3 million men and women.
In February, 772,000 veterans were unemployed. The older veterans accounted for the largest number of unemployed with 228,000. Gulf War II era veterans added an additional 203,000. Gulf War I vets had 169,000 unemployed while the remaining veterans had 172,000 unemployed. The youngest veterans, ages 18 to 24, have the highest unemployment rate in February, 36.2 percent. Of the 201,000 veterans in that age group, 60,000 are unemployed and an additional 34,000 are not in the labor force. These veterans served since Sept. 11, 2001.
There are 2.2 million female veterans, 9.3 percent of the total veteran population. The overall unemployment rate for these veterans in February was 7.4 percent. This is a much higher rate than for February 2012, which was 5.4 percent. February saw 103,000 female veterans unemployed.
The February unemployment rate for all non-veterans was 7.9 percent. Civilian men showed an 8.4 percent unemployment rate while civilian women had a 7.3 percent unemployment rate. The 72.4 million civilians not in the labor force represented 25.2 percent of the total civilian population.
The men and women who have served in the United States military play an important role in the civilian sector as well. The unemployment rate for veterans is much lower than that for non-veterans and clearly has helped the overall national unemployment rate fall. The combined U.S. unemployment rate for February 2013, also released March 8, was 7.7 percent.
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