New Jersey’s veterans are having a harder time finding a job than veterans in any other state, according to an extensive survey of veteran employment rates nationwide by the United States Department of Labor.
New Jersey boasted a staggering 10.8% unemployment rate among its veteran population, according to data the Department of Labor acquired through the Census’s Current Population Survey. It is the nation’s highest, followed closely by Michigan at 10.6%. As PolitickerNJ notes, New Jersey appears to be a regional anomaly, as New York and Pennsylvania have much lower unemployment rates among veterans – 8.2% and 7.7%, respectively. All three are still above the national average, however, which stood at 6.6% in 2013.
The news of New Jersey’s unfortunate economic climate for veterans is especially damning when compared to national trends in veteran employment. The jobless rate for veterans in 2013 nationally dipped to 6.6%, and among veterans of the post-September 11 warfronts who have suffered higher unemployment rates than veterans generally, the rate also dropped to 9%. Looking closely at the state statistics, it becomes clear that New Jersey is responsible for tipping the average much higher than it would otherwise be; in states like Delaware, Iowa, North Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia, veteran unemployment did not reach over 4%.
According to New Jersey Policy Perspective President Gordon MacInnes, New Jersey also tops the nation in foreclosures and individuals out of work for more than six months.
The new statistics on veteran unemployment highlight the dire straits the state has found itself in since the end of Governor Jon Corzine’s controversial tenure. A study from George Mason University’s Mercatus Center found that New Jersey was the least economically solvent state in the nation, citing statistics such as revenue to debt ratios and amount of necessary and discretionary expenditures. The state also reached record levels of debt in 2013, as Governor Chris Christie promised some budgetary reform to correct the direction in which the state’s economics appeared to be heading.
Governor Christie’s efforts have done little to assuage concerns that New Jersey will struggle to keep up with its own debts. In December, the bond rating company Moody’s lowered New Jersey’s rating output, citing a “sluggish” recovery from the 2008 recession, much slower than many neighboring states. New Jersey missed its revenue targets that month, even with the advent of online gambling, which many proponents argued would boost the state’s revenues to combat the inflating debt.
In his inaugural address this January, Governor Christie called for a renewed commitment to fiscal responsibility and reducing state spending. “New Jersey is setting the tone for the entire nation,” he claimed.