Veterans Unemployment Report


The BLS CPS report states there were 20,782,000 veterans left in the United States in November 2016, down 26,000 from the 20,808,000 veterans in October 2016.

Since the Vietnam War the trend of veterans in the United States has continuously been decreasing. America has lost over two-thirds of its veterans since the Vietnam War. This is an important issue for veterans as with decreasing numbers, they are losing the political power they had in the past. This is not lost on politicians running for office and may be one of the contributing factors that would help explain problems at the Veterans Administration.

BLS CPS reports there were 10,493,000 (50.5%) veterans in the workforce in November. That represents a decrease of 185,000 from the 10,678,000 veterans in the workforce in October.

499,000 (4.8%) veterans were unemployed in November, up 39,000 from the 460,000 (4.3%) veterans who were unemployed in October. 10,289,000 veterans were not in the workforce in November. This number shows there are a lot of veterans sitting on the sidelines and not participating in the workforce. This is also true of civilians where over 90 million are not participating in the workforce. Again, in spite of what politicians may say, you cannot have a thriving economy with so many people not participating in the workforce.

The really good news continues to be that on average the overall veteran unemployment rate is still lower than the national unemployment rate.

Younger Veterans

In November there were 239,000 veterans in the 18 to 24 year old age group, down from the 243,000 veterans in October. Of those, 159,000 (66.5%) were in the civilian labor force, of which 141,000 (58.8%) were employed and 19,000 (11.7%) were unemployed. This is nearly a doubling of unemployed veterans in this cohort over the last quarter! For comparison, the national 18 to 24-year old unemployment rate in November was 8.6% (1,627,000).

There were 1,722,000 veterans in the 25 to 34-year old veteran cohort in November, with no change from October. Of this group, 1,466,000 (85.2%) were in the workforce of which 1,348,000 (78.3%) were employed and 118,000 (8.1%) were unemployed. 255,000 were not in the workforce. For comparison, the national unemployment rate for the 25 to 34 year olds in November was 4.7% (1,667,000).

Older Veterans

The unemployment rates for the older veteran cohorts are as follows:

                                           November                    October                        September
35 to 44 year olds             3.9% (76,000)            3.4% (68,000)            2.7% (54,000)
45 to 54 year olds             3.9% (106,000)          3.6% (99,000)            4.3% (120,000)
55 to 64 year olds             4.7% (112,000)           4.2% (57,000)            4.7% (114,000)
65 year olds and over      3.8% (68,000)            4.9% (92,000)            4.5% (85,000)

The above numbers indicate that older veterans in November have been finding jobs. Most economists view unemployment rates of below 4.5% to 5.0% as just the normal churn of people moving between jobs. Some refer to it as natural unemployment. No matter what one calls it, the overall numbers for older veteran unemployment are very strong when compared to their civilian counterparts. It is the younger veterans who are currently having issues finding work.

Women Veterans

There were 2,020,000 women veterans in November. 1,275,000 (63.1%) were in the civilian labor force of which 1,181,000 (58.5%) were employed, and 94,000 (7.4%) were unemployed, an increase of 20,000 from October. 745,000 women veterans were not in the workforce in November. The national unemployment rate for women in November was 4.2% (3,097,000).

Gulf War II Veterans

There were 4,034,000 Gulf War II era veterans in November. 3,338,000 (82.8%) were in the workforce. Of those, 3,123,000 (77.4%) were employed and 216,000 (6.5%) were unemployed. 696,000 Gulf War II era veterans were not in the labor force.

Black Veterans

There were 2,685,000 black veterans in November, of which 1,563,000 (58.2%) were in the civilian work force. 1,473,000 (54.8%) were employed and 90,000 (5.8%) were unemployed. The national Black unemployment rate in November was 7.6% (1,522,000).

As in the past, the national Black unemployment rate is higher than the Black veteran unemployment rate. These numbers confirm the advantages of minorities joining the military to obtain employment skills and work experience. From these numbers, the Black veterans are definitely finding jobs at a better rate than their Black civilian counterparts!

Asian Veterans

There were 333,000 Asian veterans in November of which 224,000 (67.4%) were in the workforce. 218,000 (65.5%) were employed. 6,000 (2.9%) were unemployed. 109,000 were not in the labor force. The national Asian unemployment rate in November was 3.0% (284,000).

Hispanic Veterans

There were 1,523,000 Hispanic veterans in November of which 977,000 (64.1%) were in the workforce. 914,000 (60.0%) were employed and 62,000 (6.4%) were unemployed. 547,000 were not in the workforce. The national unemployment rate for Hispanics in November was 5.4% (1,440,000).

White Veterans

There were 17,185,000 White veterans in November of which 8,390,000 (48.8%) were in the workforce. 8,008,000 (46.6%) were employed and 382,000 (4.6%) were unemployed. 8,795,000 White veterans were not in the workforce. The national White unemployment rate in November 3.8% (4,628,000).

Erica L. Groshen, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the unemployment rate declined by 0.3% to 4.6% in November, and nonfarm payroll employment increased by 178,000. While this sounds good, the American economy needs to be generating 200,000 to 250,000 new jobs a month in order to assimilate new entrants to the workforce. America is not generating enough jobs.

Job growth continued in professional and business services and in health care. Thus far this year, nonfarm job growth has averaged 180,000 per month, compared with an average gain of 229,000 per month in 2015. Again, America is not generating enough jobs.

Incorporating revisions for September and October, which reduced nonfarm payroll employment by 2,000 on net, monthly job gains have averaged 176,000 over the past 3 months, way below the number of jobs needed to have a strong economy.

Average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by 3 cents in November to $25.89, following an 11-cent increase in October. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5%. From October 2015 to October 2016, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased by 1.6% (on a seasonally adjusted basis).

Turning to measures from the survey of households, the unemployment rate declined by 0.3% to 4.6% in November. The number of unemployed people fell by 387,000 over the month to 7.4 million. The decrease was largely among adult men. From August 2015 through October 2016, both the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed people had shown little movement on net.

In November, the number of people searching for work for 27 weeks or more was little changed at 1.9 million. These long-term unemployed accounted for 24.8% of the total unemployed.

The labor force participation rate, at 62.7%, was about unchanged in November, and the employment-population ratio held at 59.7%. Both measures have shown little movement in recent months.

In November, there were 5.7 million people working part time for economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time workers). This measure was little changed over the month but was down by 416,000 from a year earlier.

Among those neither working nor looking for work in November, 1.9 million were considered marginally attached to the labor force, up from 1.7 million a year earlier. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached who believed that no jobs were available for them, numbered 591,000 in November, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (Marginally attached to the labor force refers to people who had not looked for work in the 4 weeks prior to the survey but wanted a job, were available for work, and had looked for a job within the last 12 months.)


For those people looking for work, the following paragraphs from the BLS commissioner’s report indicates where the new jobs were created. If you are looking for a job, these areas may offer employment opportunities.

Employment in professional and business services increased by 63,000 in November and has expanded by 571,000 over the year. Within the industry, accounting and bookkeeping services added 18,000 jobs over the month. Employment continued to trend up in administrative and support services (+36,000), computer systems design and related services (+5,000), and management and technical consulting services (+4,000).

Health care employment rose by 28,000 in November, with a gain of 22,000 in ambulatory health care services. Health care has added 407,000 jobs over the year.

Employment in construction continued on its recent upward trend in November (+19,000), led by a gain in residential specialty trade contractors (+15,000). Over the past 3 months, construction has added 59,000 jobs, largely in residential construction.

Employment in other major industries–mining, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government–changed little over the month.