Veterans Unemployment Drops in May, but Worries About Long-Term Job Market Lnger

The unemployment rate among veterans fell in May despite the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic, a surprising turn-around after historic high jobless numbers a month earlier.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the veterans unemployment rate fell to 9 percent in May, down from 11.7 percent in April. Among younger veterans — typically the group that has struggled the most with jobs issues in recent years — the figure was 10.3 percent, down from 13.0 percent in April.

The BLS estimates translate into roughly 800,000 veterans nationwide applying for federal unemployment benefits last month.

Rosalinda Maury, director of applied research at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, said the May news was a positive step for the veterans’ community, but she warned that it doesn’t guarantee a full economic recovery in coming months.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” she said. “But the unemployment rate is still relatively high compared to where we were before the pandemic.”

Maury said she’ll be watching to see if subsets of the veteran population continue to see unemployment decreases in coming months. In May, veterans aged 35 to 44 saw a slight increase in their jobless rate, an indication that pockets of the veterans’ community may have more trouble overcoming the pandemic effects.

“Unemployment is one measure of a stable economy, but it’s not the only measure,” she said. “When you look at all the revenues that were lost in the last few months, we’re not out of the woods yet. Whether we come back to a full recovery is to be determined.”

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