While more veterans are finding jobs, women aren't

Kaylah Jackson
June 04, 2018 - 12:24 pm

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Somers Steelman/Released)


Finding a career after serving in the military is arugably the first priority for transitioning service members but even with overall veteran unemployment down, the job outlook for women veterans remains bleak.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that veteran unemployment - and specifically Post 9/11 veteran unemployment - is down.  The national unemployment rate is only 3.8%, and yet, unemployment for women veterans is increasing.

Why is that exactly?

"Simply put, it's the hiring burden that many women veterans face and it translates over into our post-military careers," said Melissa Bryant, cheif policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA.) "We're often single mothers; we're often the ones who, even though we may be of  higher education rates than our male counterparts, we're often underemployed if not unemployed." 

While it's true that "numbers don't lie," the statistics don't paint a full picture of the factors that contribute to the vast unemployment of women veterans. Many of the similar trends that reflect unemployment in civilian women are similar for women veterans.

Stephanie Mullen, Research Director for IAVA said in a appearance on The Morning Briefing,  "They're looking for work and not finding it. I think age is a huge factor here that we can't disregard. Post 9/11 women veterans, you're looking at 20s, 30s, 40s. These are women that are in the child bearing age, they're getting married, they're coming out of school and they're looking for work and generally that is some of the triggers that we see can influence your employment and employability."

Even with those factors, when women veterans are employed they tend to have higher education levels and managerial positions. But some veterans feel that there is still a disconnect between their current position and their actual experience.

"We find that in our member survey, about 30% of IAVA members feel they are underemployed," said Mullens. Even veterans who have schooling and experience before and after the military often take positions where they believe their education doesn't match where they are in their career.

The statistics don't always address women who are unemployed by choice, unemployed because of a limiting disability, or even veterans with a higher education level working in a position that doesn't match their experience.

With the exception of women veterans, over the past few months, unemployment rates for Post 9/11 vets are decreasing, which is still very good news for the veteran community. 

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