Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Government's Labor Reports Fail To Capture The Real Problems Of Veteran Unemployment
Month after month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that U.S. veterans are doing better than non-veterans in the job market. In October, the BLS indicated that veteran unemployment was just 2.7%, compared to 3.8% for non-vets.
However, these figures paint an incomplete picture of what’s really going on.
As executive director of the Call of Duty Endowment, which has funded the placement of more than 40,000 job-seeking veterans since 2009, I work closely with organizations that help vets and transitioning service members find meaningful employment after the military.
For years, these nonprofit have argued their on-the-ground experience contradicts the BLS, and demand for their services is ever increasing. Knowing veterans comprise 8.3% of the U.S. adult population and 6.4% of the civilian labor force, according to BLS, we’ve been particularly concerned to hear that more and more veterans are seeking employment help.
To figure out why, the Call of Duty Endowment partnered with ZipRecruiter to quantitatively assess the anecdotal evidence that increasing numbers of veterans are struggling to find employment or face underemployment challenges following their service. Our study — the largest of its kind — definitively concluded that nearly one-third of veteran job seekers are underemployed — this is a rate 15.6% higher than non-veteran job seekers. It’s clear there’s a problem. It’s also clear the U.S. government’s methods for tracking this information are failing to capture those who are struggling to make ends meet after service.
People gather during the Veteran Career Fair hosted by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 18, 2012Photo via Department of Veterans Affairs
By leveraging the résumé data of more than six million job seekers on the ZipRecruiter platform (547,941 of whom were veterans), our researchers set out to identify areas where veterans were significantly different from non-veterans with respect to their education, employment, geography, and job-search activity. In addition to learning how many veteran job seekers are underemployed, we found:
- Veterans tend to leave their first jobs after military service faster than non-veterans leave their first jobs, but veteran turnover is lower throughout the arc of a veteran’s career. On average, 57% of veterans stayed longer than 2.5 years in their jobs, as compared to 42.5% of non-veteran jobseekers.
- Veterans searching for jobs are more likely to be employed during their search than non-veterans, and are more likely to change jobs in the next six months than non-veterans. More than half of veteran job seekers (54.2%) said they were either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to change jobs in the next six months, compared to 43.9% of non-veterans.
It’s clear from these results that the first job a veteran takes after military service is often a bad fit, with former service members taking jobs beneath their skill and experience levels. And, these results fly in the face of the BLS narrative.
Practically everyone in government and much of the media relies on the BLS veteran employment numbers, and yet they don’t account for veterans who are underemployed or those who have stopped looking for work altogether. Even more disturbing, the BLS report makes determinations about individuals’ employment status by relying on data from one misleading question the census asks each month: “Did you do any work for pay last week?” Under that standard, mowing your neighbor’s lawn for $20 gets you counted as employed. That kind of income obviously doesn’t allow a veteran to create stability for themselves and their family after their service.
The bottom line: A significant percentage of veterans are not finding meaningful and sustainable employment after they get out of the military, and we as a country need actionable and better-quality data on the economic health of these veterans so we can create the right solutions and allocate resources appropriately. Government statistics must begin to constructively address the issue of veteran underemployment so organizations can work with the government to improve the Transition Assistance Program, counseling services, job training, job search, and networking programs that get our veterans back to work.
We hope the BLS will take a much-needed hard look at its methods and adjust so we can truly begin to understand the depth of veteran economic health issues and how to solve them.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.
U.S. Special Operations Command may be on the verge of making the dream of flying infantry soldiers a reality, but the French may very well beat them to it.
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron shared an unusual video showing a man on a flying platform — widely characterized as a "hoverboard" — maneuvering through the skies above the Bastille Day celebrations in Paris armed with what appears to be a dummy firearm.
The video was accompanied with a simple message of "Fier de notre armée, moderne et innovante," which translates to "proud of our army, modern and innovative," suggesting that the French Armed Forces may be eyeing the unusual vehicle for potential military applications.
A lawmaker wants to know if the Pentagon ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with bioweapons
If you've ever wondered if the Pentagon has ever exposed the American public to ticks infected with biological weapons, you're not alone.
Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) authored an amendment to the House version of the Fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would require the Defense Department Inspector General's Office to find out if the U.S. military experimented with using ticks and other insects as biological weapons between 1950 and 1975.
If such experiments took place, the amendment would require the inspector general's office to tell lawmakers if any of the ticks or other bugs "were released outside of any laboratory by accident or experiment design."
The Taliban drove his family out of Afghanistan when he was a child. Now he wants to go back as a Marine
There's no one path to military service. For some, it's a lifelong goal, for others, it's a choice made in an instant.
For 27-year-old Marine Pvt. Atiqullah Assadi, who graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp on July 12, the decision to enlist was the culmination of a journey that began when he and his family were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan.
The Air Force has administratively separated the Nellis Air Force Base sergeant who was investigated for making racist comments about her subordinates in a video that went viral last year, Task & Purpose has learned.