WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) -- The unemployment rate for recent veterans fell sharply in the second quarter of 2013 and is now even with the rest of the country, unemployment statistics show.
Recent figures show an end to a stubborn trend of higher joblessness among veterans who left the military after September 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
In the second quarter of 2013, the average unemployment rate of post-9/11 veterans was 7.4 percent, which is not statistically different from the 7.2 percent rate of non-veterans, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
That's down from 12.1 percent for veterans and 8.7 percent for non-veterans in 2011 and 9.9 percent for veterans and 7.9 percent for non-veterans in 2012, the Times reported.
For the largest demographic of recent veterans -- men between the ages of 25 and 34 -- the unemployment rate is lower than non-veterans of the same demographic group, at 6.6 percent to 7.3 percent, the report said.
"The veterans have done something for their country," said Derek Bennett, chief of staff for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "The country has a moral obligation to ensure they are working and productive citizens."
Advocates said the unemployment rate improvement could be credited to public and private efforts to get recent veterans back in the work force.