Era of high unemployment for Iraq, Afghanistan veterans ends

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U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment patrol the streets of Marjah in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Dec. 17, 2010. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien, U.S. Navy. (Released)

U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment patrol the streets of Marjah in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Dec. 17, 2010. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien, U.S. Navy. (Released)

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An era of high unemployment for those who served during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars appears to be over, according to federal statistics showing jobless rates for those veterans are now on par with civilians.

The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was lower in October — at 4.6% — than the national average of 5%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That percentage was the lowest for the group since October 2007, when it was at 4.4% two months before the recession began.

There were 1.5 million veterans of the two wars in 2007. Today, there are 3.8 million.

“They’ve certainly come out of the kind of hangover of the post-recession period, and they now seem to be improving on par with the rest of the workers in the country,” said James Borbely, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics who studies veteran data. “It’s improvement in employment. It’s not the case where they’re dropping out of the labor force.”

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