The latest unemployment numbers are out for September, and they show some improvement from the previous month: the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, with 114,000 jobs added, according to the Obama administration.
An area we’ve been keeping a close eye on is the unemployment rate for veterans, particularly for those who served in the post-9/11 conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In August, their unemployment rate was a staggering 10.9 percent—much higher than the national average.
In September, the trend showed some improvement, at least at first glance. The jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans dropped to 9.7 percent. However, that positive development may be tempered by the increasing number of veterans dropping out of the labor force, which grew by 21,000 last month.
We’ll be digging in to the numbers further to see what else we can learn, but we clearly still have a long way to go to help recent veterans to re-integrate into the private sector work force. CVA’s CEO, Pete Hegseth offered his thoughts on how best to tackle veterans’ unemployment in National Review last week.
Policymakers in Washington may be tempted to argue that this latest number proves that we need to maintain the status quo, to “keep on keeping on.” That’s the wrong lesson to take from a one-month uptick in jobs, especially with a $16 trillion national debt and a looming fiscal cliff of tax hikes and indiscriminate spending cuts slated for January 1, 2013.
The economy is still struggling. The president and Congress need to keep their focus on pro-growth policies like smart tax policy and intelligent spending restraint, including reining in entitlement spending. That’s the only way to dig out of this hole in the long term.
Kate Pomeroy serves as Communications Director for the Concerned Veterans for America team.