A college education provided veterans with a strong defense against unemployment in 2014, according to a new federal report. Among veterans with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the jobless rate was just 3.8% compared to 6% for those with only a high school diploma.
Overall, the unemployment rate among the nation’s veterans dropped from 6.6% to 5.3% year-over-year, marking the fourth year in a row of improvement, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.
“Employers continue to recognize that these veterans are strong, skilled, dedicated workers,’’ U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said in a March 2015 statement.
By comparison, the average unemployment rate for nonveterans nationwide fell from 7.2% in 2013 to 6% in 2014. As with veterans, other college-educated jobseekers were more likely to find work. Nonveterans with at least a bachelor’s degree had an unemployment rate of 3.1%; those with just a high school diploma had a jobless rate of 6%.
In all, about 21.2 million men and women, or 9% of the civilian population age 18 or older, were veterans as of 2014, according to the BLS report. Veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War and/or the Vietnam War made up the largest group (9.4 million), followed by Gulf War-era I and II veterans (6.5 million) and those who served outside the specified wartime periods (5.3 million).
Among veterans who served on active duty at any time since Sept. 11, 2001 – a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans – the employment rate fell to 7.2%, a decline of 1.8 percentage points from the previous year and significantly lower than the post-recession peak of 12% in 2011.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense recently launched an online employment center that offers resources for prospective employees and employers interested in hiring veterans. Active-duty servicemembers and veterans can find jobs listings, a resume builder and a military skills translator. The site also offers employers a direct feed of veterans’ applications.
Also available to veterans is Joining Forces, an initiative launched in 2011 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to improve offerings in education, employment and healthcare for servicemembers, veterans and military families.
According to The White House, the nearly 230 companies taking part in Joining Forces have hired 540,000 veterans and military spouses.