Some Way-Off Veteran Unemployment Rates

Defense Business Board figures don’t jibe with labor statistics.

The Defense Business Board painted what it called a “bleak picture” of veteran unemployment rates in a report on the transition to civilian life by active duty personnel.

The board, whose membership consists of 20 senior private sector executives tapped for their business savvy to provide advice to Pentagon leadership, said the military will “transition up to 800 service members per day over the next two to three years. These new veterans will transition into a job market that already shows an historically high rate of unemployment. At the end of 2012, the national unemployment rate was 7.8 percent but the range between states varied from 3.8 percent in Nebraska to 9.8 percent in California.”

The unemployment stats for veterans are even worse, the board reported. "The data for veterans presents a bleak picture with an all-veterans unemployment rate of 10 percent,” the report released on June 27 said. “Further analysis of the data shows a 13 percent unemployment rate for females and 9 percent for males.  This is especially problematic for the 20-24 year old age group where unemployment was 23.4 percent in the month of December.  While monthly statistics prove to be somewhat variable, the trend is a linear increase in unemployment."

That’s dead wrong, says Brandon Friedman, former social media director for the VA, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and now has a gig as a PR guy with FleishmanHillard.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in early July that the unemployment rate for all veterans was 6.3 percent in June —a slight drop from 6.6 percent in May and still below the national average of 7.6 percent. The unemployment rate for just post-911 vets was slightly higher, 7.2 percent in June, down from 7.3 percent in May.

Friedman said the assertion that "the trend is a linear increase in unemployment" is also way off.  “There is only a linear increase if you aggregate all data since 2006 (i.e., veteran unemployment is higher now than it was in 2006--no kidding).  But that's a mis-application of statistical analysis. In fact, all-veteran unemployment has been trending downward since late-2009/early-2010,” Friedman said.

Don’t believe everything  you read – even (or especially) if it is in a government report.