The number of Iraq and Afghanistan War era veterans working in civilian jobs reached its highest level ever in October as the unemployment rate among all veterans dipped again last month.

More than 3.9 million veterans from the recent war eras were employed last month, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.

That’s up about 400,000 individuals from one year ago, and the highest mark recorded by Department of Labor researchers since they began tracking the group in 2006.

Roughly 113,000 veterans from that same generation who were able to work could not find steady employment last month.

BLS officials reported that the veterans unemployment rate fell in October to 2.5% (from 2.6% the month before), marking the eighth consecutive month that metric has been below 3%. That’s the best streak of employment news for veterans since the agency began tracking the statistic in 2000.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate rose from 3.5% in September to 3.7% in October, despite businesses adding about 261,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate has bounced between those two levels since March.

Veterans unemployment spiked in April 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as companies furloughed workers and shuttered offices.

However, since the start of 2021 (when the jobless veterans rate was at 5.5%), the number of veterans working full-time has steadily increased.

About 8.6 million veterans have full time employment in the civilian sector today. That’s roughly half what the number was 30 years ago, with the drop attributable to veterans from the Vietnam War and earlier eras aging out of the workforce.

Only about one in every 10 veterans in a civilian job today served before the military shifted to an all-volunteer force, in 1973.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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