Post-9/11 Vets Not In Labor Force More Than Double Under Obama

February 24, 2014 - 7:08 PM

veterans

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) -- The number of Americans who served in the military after September 2001 and have subsequently left the labor force entirely has more than doubled during President Barack Obama’s five years in office, increasing by 317,000—or 114 percent.

In January 2009, there were 277,000 post-9/11 vets not in the labor force. By January 2014, they had risen to 594,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks employment information on veterans, subdividing the data according to the time period in which a person served. BLS publishes numbers for all veterans 18 and over; World War II, Korean War and Vietnam-era veterans; Gulf War era I veterans (who served in the period from August 1990 through August 2001); and Gulf War era II veterans (who served in the period from September 2001 through the present).

Overall, according to BLS, there are now 21,323,000 civilians 18 or over who are veterans. Among this total population of veterans, the unemployment rate in January was 5.6 percent—a full percentage point below the national rate of 6.6 percent.

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However, among post-9/11 veterans (or Gulf War era II veterans as the BLS calls them), the unemployment rate in January was 7.9 percent—1.3 points higher than the national rate of 6.6 percent.

Over the past five years, the number of post-9/11 veterans has increased by 1,185,000, rising from 1,800,000 in January 2009 to 2,985,000 in January 2014, according to BLS.

But, even though the labor force participation rate among this group is much higher than the overall national rate of 63.0 percent, a decreasing percentage of post-9/11 veterans have been entering the labor force. In January 2009, the labor force participation rate among post-9/11 veterans was 84.6 percent, according to BLS. By January 2014, it had dropped to 80.1 percent.

During the same January 2009 to January 2014 timeframe, the number of post-9/11 veterans not in the labor force increased from 277,000 to 594,000.

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The BLS counts a person as being in the labor force if they either had a job in the last four weeks or actively sought one. The BLS only counts a person as unemployed if they participated in the labor force—n.b. they actively sought a job—and did not find one. A person who is not in the labor force—meaning they did not actively seek a job in the last four weeks—is not counted as unemployed.

At the same time that the labor force participation rate of post-9/11 vets was dropping, the numbers of post 9/11 vets employed and unemployed were both increasing.

From January 2009 to January 2014, the number of post-9/11 vets who were employed increased by 815,000, rising from 1,388,000 to 2,203,000. During the same time frame, the number of post-9/11 vets who were unemployed increased by 54,000, rising from 135,000 to 189,000.

While the unemployment rate in January was 5.6 percent for veterans of all eras and 7.9 percent for veterans who served in the post-9/11 period, it was 5.5 percent for veterans of the Gulf War era 1, 4.4 percent for World War II, Korea and Vietnam-era vets, and 4.8 percent for veterans who served in other periods.