By the end of 2019, veteran unemployment had continued its years of steady decreases. In fact, the average monthly rate last year was 3.1%, the best since 2000, and five of those months achieved lower seasonally adjusted rates than any month from any other year on record. While unemployment has understandably increased due to COVID-19, the veteran unemployment rate today is lower than that of their non-veteran counterparts. Employers recognize the value of veterans, especially during these challenging times.
In the midst of the pandemic, veteran unemployment rates are no worse than they were during the depth of the Great Recession. The good news is we have a few things going for us that we didn’t have then. First of all, we’ve recently made the journey to record low veteran unemployment, and we know how to do it again. Secondly, thanks to Administration priorities and congressional support, our agency is better resourced today than we were a decade ago. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we know that the majority of those who were recently furloughed will be able to return to their former jobs once it’s safe to reopen the country fully. This in no way is to suggest that the road to recovery will not be challenging, but it is to say that the American worker is up to the challenge. I salute you all.
John Lowry is the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training Service. He has held a number of manufacturing leadership roles in the private sector and served in the U.S. Marine Corps.