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PolitiFact: Obama right on higher joblessness among recent veterans

The ruling

We wondered whether Obama was right about unemployment among recent veterans, so we took a look at federal statistics.

We found a recent table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that breaks down employment status for veterans and non-veterans.

It reported that in May 2011, veterans from the post-9/11 period had an unemployment rate of 12.1 percent. By comparison, non-veterans that month had an 8.5 percent unemployment rate. So Obama was correct.

It's worth noting that since post-9/11 veterans account for a tiny fraction of the entire labor force — a bit over 1 percent — and because the BLS did not seasonally adjust the numbers, these figures are subject to a lot more volatility than the unemployment rate for all workers.

For instance, in March and April 2011, unemployment for post-9/11 veterans was 10.9 percent, or more than a full point lower than it was in May. Going further back, it bounced around quite a bit — 12.5 percent in February 2011, 15.2 percent in January 2011, and 11.7 percent in December 2010. Still, even the lowest of these figures was comfortably ahead of the comparable unemployment rates for non-veterans.

The other issue we'll mention is that post-9/11 veterans are an exception to a more general rule. Typically, veterans of earlier military actions have unemployment levels similar to, or even lower, than non-veterans.

Consider the statistics for May 2011. As post-9/11 veterans saw their unemployment rate hit 12.1 percent, veterans of the first Gulf War were seeing a 7 percent unemployment rate, veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam were seeing 7.4 percent unemployment and veterans from other periods saw a rate of 7.9. Each group's rate was clearly lower than the 8.5 percent unemployment rate for non-veterans.

None of this undercuts Obama's claim. We rate his statement True.

This ruling has been edited for print. For the full version, go to

The statement

"Young veterans have a higher unemployment rate than people who didn't serve."

President Barack Obama, in a Twitter town hall

PolitiFact: Obama right on higher joblessness among recent veterans 07/08/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 11, 2011 9:43pm]
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