I saw a statistical curiosity whilst skimming the news this morning.A veteran's job report
claims that the unemployment rate among our veterans has dropped to pre-pandemic levels, even as the civilian economy continues to struggle. One wonders if those alleged ten million jobs available that nobody seems to want might be appealing to returning warriors?
The overall veteran unemployment rate dropped to a pre-pandemic level of 3.6% in August, despite a disappointing jobs report showing that new hires fell by more than 860,000 compared to July as COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant surge.
"Clearly, we have more work to do," Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said on MSNBC of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly employment report.
"It's going to be a longer-term recovery," he said, adding that "we need to get these infection rates down."
At the White House, President Joe Biden said he had been "hoping for a higher number" of new hires, but "too many have not been vaccinated and that's creating unease in our economy."
Still, "we're adding jobs, not losing them," he said.
Biden spoke before leaving for New Orleans to survey damage from Hurricane Ida near the end of what has arguably been the worst week of his presidency. It was marked by the U.S. military's chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the COVID-19 surge, deadly hurricane-related flooding across both the Northeast and Southeast, rampaging wildfires in the West, and challenges to the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision.
The economy added just 235,000 new jobs last month, well short of the 720,000 analysts had predicted and a huge drop from the 1.1 million hires in July, the bureau said. Until August, the economy had averaged 586,000 new jobs per month this year.
Nationwide, the overall unemployment rate declined 0.2% to 5.2% in August. Among all veterans, the jobless rate dropped from 4.0% in July to 3.6% in August -- the first time since February 2020 the unemployment rate for veterans has fallen below 4%.
For post-9/11 veterans, the group traditionally considered most at risk in the job market, the rate was essentially unchanged -- down from 3.2% in July to 3.1% in August. The 3.1% figure was the lowest for post-9/11 vets since December 2019.
The seeming anomaly in the numbers -- falling unemployment rates even as new hires drop significantly -- could be attributed to how the numbers are collected and counted.
Perhaps it bears further watching to see how it plays out.
But even so, we still have that elephant in the room. I am no longer mystified nor amazed at how our so-called political leaders continue to react
to our ongoing health crisis. Perhaps maybe we should stop calling them "lawmakers" and instead start referring to them as "angels of death
House lawmakers have backed legislation prohibiting dishonorable discharges for troops who refuse the COVID-19 vaccine, as the Navy gave its sailors 90 days to get the shot this week and the Army and Air Force were poised Thursday to enforce their own timetables.
Legislation sponsored by Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., an Army veteran, requires only honorable discharges for anyone who is separated from the military over refusing to be vaccinated. It was added to the fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill, passed by the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
"No American who raises their hand to serve our Nation should be punished for making a highly personal medical decision," Green said in a statement after the committee vote. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in August after allowing emergency use beginning in December 2020, saying it is safe and effective for those 16 years old and over.
The Navy became the first service to enforce a timeframe for vaccinations in a series of memos on Tuesday and Wednesday following the FDA approval and an order by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for all troops to be vaccinated. The Army and Air Force are expected to give soldiers and airmen a deadline "very, very soon," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during a briefing with reporters Thursday.
But troops who refuse to be inoculated may not necessarily face dishonorable discharge, or even separation, according to Kirby.
The Pentagon has repeatedly stopped short of saying it will boot troops for refusing the shot. Commanders will have a range of options that stop short of punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Kirby said. The services also will allow religious exemptions to the vaccine.
"The secretary expects that the department leadership will implement these mandatory vaccines with skill but also ... professionalism and compassion," Kirby said. "When an individual declines to take a mandatory vaccine, they will be given an opportunity to talk to both medical providers as well as their own chain of command so that they can fully understand the decision they are making."
The House legislation barring dishonorable discharges now must go to a vote in the full chamber. The House version of the massive, must-pass defense authorization bill also must be reconciled with the Senate version in conference, where controversial measures often are eliminated.
In any case, the bill is unlikely to be signed into law until months after all the military services are enforcing COVID-19 inoculations.
But now - we're back to "back to school" season. It's always a time of renewal for me. We'll be back to Scouting and other fall pursuits rather soon. Of course, it's anyone's guess now how our fall will turn out.