The jobs market defied predictions with a burst of new hires in July that kept the unemployment rate for all veterans at a pre-pandemic level of 2.7% while the national jobless level ticked down from 3.6% to 3.5%, the Labor Department reported Friday.
But for post-9/11 veterans, whose jobless rate has been most subject to fluctuation, the unemployment rate in July was 3.4%, up half a percentage point from 2.9% in June, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
"It's been up and down, up and down" for post-9/11 veterans since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Tom Porter, government affairs vice president for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said in a phone interview with Military.com.
"We hope this is just a blip on the veterans' side of this," Porter said of the increase in unemployment for post-9/11 veterans. But he added that the latest BLS monthly employment situation report was "good news overall. Veterans are continuing to experience a positive job situation."
The BLS data showed that the unemployment rate for all veterans, which dipped below 3% in March for the first time since the start of the pandemic, remained at 2.7% in July, the same as it was in June.
Robert Frick, corporate economist for Navy Federal Credit Union, said that the fact "the veterans unemployment rate held steady at 2.7% in July, well below the non-veteran rate at 3.5%" is an encouraging sign.
"However, veterans' numbers are volatile given sample size and other issues. What's important is the downward trend in veterans unemployment in the last year," Frick said in a statement to Military.com. "Training while in-service and the GI Bill benefits help veterans keep an edge in the hot jobs market."
The surprising results in the BLS report were fueled by a major increase in total non-farm employment of 528,000 new jobs, far exceeding analysts' predictions of about 250,000.
"Both total non-farm employment and the unemployment rate returned to their February 2020 pre-pandemic levels," William Beach, the BLS commissioner, said in a statement.
The positive BLS report came despite two consecutive quarterly downturns in the gross domestic product, continuing inflation and two interest rate increases of 0.75% each by the Federal Reserve Bank.
In response to the BLS report, President Joe Biden said in a statement, "More people are working than at any point in American history. There's more work to do, but today's jobs report shows we are making significant progress for working families."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.