Post-9/11 veterans hit hard by recession

May 30, 2011 at 11:52 AM ET

The Great Recession has sometimes been called the “Mancession” for the huge numbers of men who lost their jobs during the economic downturn. That goes double for veterans, especially male veterans, who left the military since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a new report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee shows.

The report, released on Memorial Day, says the unemployment rate among veterans who served on active duty since that fateful day almost 10 years ago averaged 11.5 percent in 2010, versus a jobless rate of 8.7 percent for all veterans and a 9.4 percent rate for non-vets. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for April 2011 put the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans at 10.9 percent, compared with the 7.7 percent rate for all veterans and 8.5 percent for non-veterans.

The congressional report also states that the current unemployment rate for post-9/11 male veterans between 25-54 years old is 9.9 percent. It’s even starker for younger male veterans between 18 to 24 years old: 26.9 percent. Four-fifths, or 81 percent, of recent veterans are male and most leave active duty during their prime working years of 25 to 54.

Why have male veterans been hit so hard by joblessness? Aside from the numbers, the report says the skills these veterans received in the military translate into experience for industries that were hit particularly hard by the Great Recession: mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation, utilities, information and professional and business services. They were less likely to be employed in sectors that added jobs during the recession such as education and health services.

In addition, many went on to work in the public sector because of programs that placed an emphasis on hiring veterans. The report says that 30 percent of recent veterans work in the public sector, versus 14.8 percent for non-veterans. “Although Post‐9/11 veterans are only slightly more likely than nonveterans to work in state or local government, ongoing budget shortfalls and a

slowdown in hiring by state and local governments could adversely affect veterans’ employment in the future,” the report says.

Tip of the hat to the New York Times “At War” blog for highlighting the report.