You're hired: Jobless rate for veterans hits record low

New statistics show employers are realizing what Uncle Sam has always known:  U.S. veterans know how to get the job done.

The unemployment rate for all U.S. veterans of working age dropped to 3.6 percent in November, the lowest it has been since the federal government began tracking it. While officials say more needs to be done to help younger veterans, they are encouraged by a figure that compares to an overall jobless rate of 5.4 percent.

“Hiring a veteran can be one of the best decisions a company can make,” said Kevin Gardner, a spokesman for Walmart, which two years ago mounted a high-profile campaign to hire veterans. “They’re quick learners, team players, leaders with discipline, training and a passion for service. They help us to build a better business.”

“Hiring a veteran can be one of the best decisions a company can make.”

— Kevin Gardner, Walmart spokesman

The rate was down from 3.9 percent for October and substantially lower than the 5.3 percent veteran unemployment figure for all of 2014.

The national Bureau of Labor Statistics began sorting the jobless stats for veterans in November 2006. A bureau spokesman said the numbers are positive, but added that veteran unemployment should be lower than overall unemployment.

“The issue is that veterans, overall, are older, and overall, older people have a lower unemployment rate,” said Gary Steinberg, of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Perhaps this is not a fair comparison.”

Susan Kelly, director of the Department of Defense Transition to Veterans Programs Office, which prepares service members for a successful transition to civilian life, said more must be done for post-9/11 veterans.

“Nineteen to 35-year-olds are a vulnerable population across the board -- veterans or nonveterans,” Kelly told “The economy is improving, and that’s certainly great news for the entire nation, but in reference to our veterans, there is a cumulative impact in corporate America and small businesses to hire veterans because it is not only the right thing to do, but it is also good for their bottom lines."

The Pentagon credited several organizations, including the Institute for Veterans and Military Families; Team Red, White and Blue; Team Rubicon; Blue Star Families; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program with helping to improve the job market for veterans.

Walmart, the nation’s largest employer by far, with 2.2 million workers, has pledged to hire 250,000 veterans by 2020. Through its foundation, the retailer has committed $20 million in grants to organizations that provide veteran job training, education, and community-based collaboration, according to Gardner.

There are approximately 21 million veterans in the U.S., roughly half of whom are in the job market. The rest are either beyond working age or not currently seeking jobs.

“We are very heartened by the drop in the unemployment rate,” Kelly said. “We are grateful for hiring veterans and even more so, we’re eager that the skills you only learn in the Profession of Arms be applied to the national workforce.” We need as much help as we can get to get the word out to change the perception of our veterans.”