During the October 22 presidential debate, President Barack Obama touted his administration’s initiatives to assist veterans in finding jobs upon their return to civilian life. “As a consequence” of these initiatives, he declared, “veterans’ unemployment is actually now lower than the general population. It was higher when I came into office.”
According to Craig Bannister of CNSNews.com, the president was only half right; and even then, the underlying statistics paint a more complex — and less favorable — portrait of veterans’ unemployment than Obama did.
As U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show, Obama was clearly wrong to state that the unemployment rate among veterans was higher than that among the general population when he assumed the presidency. Observes Bannister: “At 7.4%, the unemployment rate for all veterans was actually LOWER than that of both the ‘general population’ (7.8%) and non-veterans (8.4%) when Obama took office in January of 2009.”
On the other hand, Obama was correct when he asserted that the veteran unemployment rate is currently lower than that of the general population. As of September 2012 the unemployment rate for the general population was 7.8 percent, the same as when Obama took office; but the rate for veterans had fallen to 6.7 percent. However, the main reason for this drop was not that more veterans were finding jobs but that “1,502,000 older veterans dropped out of the labor force, reducing the unemployment rate for WWII/Korea/Vietnam era veterans from 7.2% to 5.3%,” Bannister notes.
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Photo of President Barack Obama: AP Images