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Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact: Close to 900,000 veterans are out of work

The statement

"There are close to 900,000 unemployed veterans in America right now."

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., in a speech

The ruling

Bishop's press secretary, Maxwell Gigle, backed up the claim by sending us news releases from the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the congressman's office. Two cited the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the federal government's official keeper of labor data, as the source of their numbers.

Each month, the agency conducts what's called the Current Population Survey. This survey collects data on employment, earnings, work hours, demographics and related issues from about 60,000 households across the nation.

The survey includes questions designed to track the employment status of veterans, which it defines as men and women who previously served on active duty in the U.S. military and were civilians when the survey was conducted.

In 2011, an average of about 11.3 million veterans were in the workforce, according to the yearly report. Some 945,000 of them were out of work.

Veterans of the wars waged after the Sept. 11, 2011, attacks had the hardest time. About 12.1 percent of them were unemployed last year. By contrast, unemployment among all veterans averaged at about 8.3 percent.

The number of unemployed veterans has dropped to 806,000, according to June 2012 figures. That's 7.4 percent of the veteran workforce.

When Bishop made his remarks 832,000 veterans were unemployed, which is close to what he said.

We should note that veterans are faring better than U.S. workers as a whole. The unemployment rate for all workers now stands at 8.3 percent.

Bishop said in a speech before Congress that there were "close to 900,000 unemployed veterans in America right now." Bishop's number is nearly correct, but he rightly added the phrase "close to."

We rate his statement True.

Willoughby Mariano, PolitiFact Georgia. This ruling has been edited for print. Read the full version at

PolitiFact: Close to 900,000 veterans are out of work 08/04/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 4, 2012 4:31am]
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