The unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans dropped in 2013, according to Labor Department statistics announced March 20.
The unemployment rate fell to 9 percent last year for veterans who served on active duty since September 2001. The jobless rate for all veterans also edged down to 6.6 percent.
Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said the drop for all vets was promising.
Todays veterans employment report for 2013 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an encouraging drop in overall veterans unemployment from 7 percent in 2012 to 6.6 percent, he said in a news release.
All of the things are moving in the right direction, said Keith Kelly, the assistant secretary of labor for veterans employment and training service.
Weve had about 48 months in the general arena of job creation and employment with nearly 9 million new jobs created. If you look at the unemployment rate for veterans, its going down from 9.9 to 9 percent. Thats about a 10 percent reduction, he added.
Kelly said veteran employment has been a focus of the administration since it took office. First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, have made their Joining Forces campaign a centerpiece of their efforts to improve job opportunities for veterans.
He urged service members departing the military to take advantage of the transition assistance programs available at all bases and installations.
For women veterans, the statistics show a significant reduction in 2013 unemployment, from 8.3 percent in 2012 to 6.9 percent in 2013, and a decrease from 9.9 percent to 9 percent for all Gulf War-era II veterans, Perez said.
Our nations veterans and their families have made countless sacrifices on behalf of our nation, he said. Who deserves opportunity more than those who have put their lives on the line defending it?
As of the end of 2013, about 2.8 million veterans had served since September 2001.
The 2013 unemployment rate for both male and female Gulf War II-era veterans was higher in 2013 than for nonveterans. Female veterans were unemployed at a rate of 9.6 percent, while the unemployment rate for female nonveterans was 6.8 percent. The unemployment rate for male Gulf War II-era veterans was 8.8 percent, while the rate for male nonveterans was 7.5 percent.
This report shows that the private and public sectors are making progress on veterans employment, Perez said. But much more needs to be done. I urge all employers to renew their commitment to veterans, so that those who served and sacrificed can realize their highest dreams. The best way to honor our veterans is to hire them.
Kelly, a Vietnam veteran himself, urged service members to begin planning early for their post-service lives. The Labor Department has many programs for veterans, he said, including training programs in trades, as well as apprenticeship programs in fields such as welding and bricklaying.
The atmosphere is welcoming for veterans in businesses and the public sector Kelley said, adding that he sees prospects improving even more in the months ahead.