Vet Job Prospects Are Bright Unless You’re a Woman

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Nov 11, 2019

Today in the US, it’s Veteran’s Day. And it brings some of the best job news for veterans in years.

From an unemployment rate that at one time reached 15.2%, young vets — those who served in the military after 9/11 — today have an unemployment rate of 3.5%, just slightly than the overall national rate of 3.3%. The rate for all veterans is even lower at 3.0%.

That’s a remarkable improvement since hitting that unemployment high eight years ago. Then, despite an employment picture that was brightening in the aftermath of the Great Recession, veterans of what’s called the Gulf War II era were sinking into ever deeper unemployment. The situation was so dire the government began to offer tax credits for hiring ex-military. Employers joined together in initiatives to hire veterans. And the military stepped up its career counseling programs for soon-to-be discharged service men and women. Veterans themselves felt unprepared for civilian jobs.

A survey released last week by the Pew Research Center found veterans credit their military service with helping them find their first job after being discharged. Among those who served post-9/11, 35% said it helped a lot and 26% say it helped a little. In fact, among those vets who looked for a job after discharge, 57% found one in less than six months; another 21% had one within a year.
That doesn’t necessarily mean making the transition from military to civilian life was easy. Pew research found 35% of all veterans say they had trouble paying their bills for a few years after discharge; 28% say they received unemployment compensation.
However there is troubling news. Women Gulf War II veterans haven’t fared as well as the men. Those women vets have an unemployment rate nearly 4 times that of their male counterparts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics last week reported a 9.5% unemployment rate for women Gulf War II veterans; the men’s rate was 2.5%.
Over the last five years, as the unemployment rate for young male vets has been generally declining, the rate for the women has erratically bounced from a high of 11.4% to a low of 1.2% in January of this year. Since then, it has been trending up. It’s unclear at this point just why.