One year ago last month, the unemployment rate for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was at 10 percent. Last month, it was at 10 percent. Few groups have seen unemployment so consistently above the national unemployment average for so long.
Since May of 2006, when the Federal Reserve data on veteran employment begins, veterans have consistently seen lower unemployment rates than non-veterans. In the graph below, you can see that rate, in yellow, compared to the nation on the whole (black) and non-vets (gray).
It's not a huge margin, but it's consistent. The graph at right shows how much the veterans' unemployment rate differs from the non-veterans rate each month — positive values indicate that more veterans were employed.
But veterans of the conflicts since 2001 have consistently seen far higher rates of unemployment. Toggle through the graphs below to compare unemployment rates for veterans of different eras (yellow) with non-veterans and the general population.
The Washington Post looked at some of the likely reasons for the discrepancy between recent veterans and those that served in different eras. Among the possibilities are the increased number of disabilities, their lack of civilian work experience (given how recently many of them ended their service), and bureaucratic red tape. Among the most positive possibilities: it's a statistical blip, related to how the data is tracked.
It's not only veterans who've been negatively affected by the economic downturn, of course; unemployment rates for African-Americans, for example, have been around 13 percent for a long time. But that figure dropped 0.7 percent since October 2012. The rate for recent veterans remains stubbornly high.