Thursday, March 20, 2014

Survey of Veterans - Unemployment Fell in 2013

Unemployment Rate for Veterans - White House Chart. 
Here are highlights of 2013 job data on veterans, based on a special survey of veterans as well as the regular BLS sample of civilian employment. The data were released today (March 20) by the BLS:
  • Unemployment among Gulf War II veterans was down slightly to 9.0 percent in 2013.  For all veterans, it fell to 6.6 percent. The unemployment rate for all female veterans declined to 6.9 percent. The rate for male veterans fell to 6.5 percent.  Among the 722,000 unemployed veterans, 60 percent were 45 years old and over; 35 percent were 25-44, and 5 percent were 18-24. (Tables A, 2A.) 
  • Number of Veterans by Period of Service.  The country's 21.4 million veterans were 9 percent of the civilian non-institutional population 18 and over. Veterans are more likely than nonveterans to be men and to be older than nonveterans, partly because veterans who served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era account for nearly one-half (9.8 million) of all veterans, and only men were drafted. More than one-fourth of veterans (6.1 million) served during the Gulf War era. Another one-fourth (5.5 million) served outside the designated wartime periods. (Table 1.) 
  • Variation by State. The unemployment rate of veterans varied by state from above 10 percent in Michigan and New Jersey to below 4 percent in Delaware, Iowa, North Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia. (Table 6A.) 
  • Gulf War II Veterans.  Of the nation's veterans, 2.8 million served during Gulf War era II. Of them, 20 percent were women, compared with 4 percent of veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam era. More than half of Gulf War II veterans were aged 25-34.  Among Gulf War II veterans, the unemployment rates for men (8.8 percent) and women (9.6 percent) were not statistically different from the prior year (9.5 percent and 12.5 percent). Among women, the unemployment rate for Gulf War II veterans (9.6 percent) was higher than the rate for nonveterans (6.8 percent).  The unemployment rate for male Gulf War II veterans (8.8 percent) was higher than the rate for male nonveterans (7.5 percent) in 2013. (Tables A,1, 2A, 2C.)
  • Unemployment by Age among Gulf War II Veterans. The unemployment rates differed by age. Male Gulf War II veterans18-24 had a higher unemployment rate, 24.3 percent, than male nonveterans of the same age group, 15.8 percent. For those 25-34, male veterans also had a higher rate, 9.2 percent, than male nonveterans, 7.5 percent. For men 35 and older, unemployment rates were little different for Gulf War II veterans and nonveterans. (Table 2B.) 
  • Occupations of Gulf War II Veterans. Veterans of Gulf War II and nonveterans had similar occupations in 2013 after accounting for gender. About one-third of the employed men in both groups worked in management and professional occupations, a higher proportion than in any other major occupational group. Among employed women, more than 40 percent of Gulf War II veterans and nonveterans worked in management and professional occupations.  A higher proportion of employed Gulf War II veterans worked in the public sector in 2013, 28 percent, than employed nonveterans, 14 percent. The federal government employed 16 percent of Gulf War II veterans, eight times the share (2 percent) of employed nonveterans. Of Gulf War II veterans, 40 percent reported serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. These veterans had an unemployment rate of 10.2 percent, little different from Gulf War II veterans who served elsewhere (10.9 percent). (Tables 4, 5, 10.) 
  • Gulf War I Veterans.  For the 3.2 million veterans who served during Gulf War I (August 1990 to August 2001), the proportion that were women (19 percent) was similar to that of Gulf War II veterans. Almost all Gulf War I veterans were age 35 and over (91 percent) in 2013, compared with 41 percent of Gulf War II veterans. In 2013, the unemployment rates for male and female Gulf War I veterans were 5.7 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, lower than the rates for their Gulf War II veteran counterparts (8.8 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively). These differences in the unemployment rates reflect, at least in part, the older age profile of veterans who served during Gulf War I. Younger workers, veterans or nonveterans, are more likely to be unemployed than older workers. Unemployment rates of Gulf War I veterans were little different from their nonveteran counterparts of the same age and gender groups. (Tables 1, 2A, 2B, 2C.) 
  • Veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam Era.  Of all veterans, 9.8 million served during World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam era. All of them were at least 55 years old, and more than 70 percent were at least 65 years old. Nearly all (96 percent) of these veterans were men. In 2013, 30.0 percent of male veterans of these wartime periods were in the labor force, and their unemployment rate was 6.5 percent. Male veterans of these wartime periods had lower labor force participation rates than did male nonveterans in the same age categories. (Tables 1, 2B.) 
  • Veterans of Other (Non-War) Service Periods.  A total of 5.5 million veterans served on active duty during "other service periods," mainly between the Korean War and the Vietnam era, and between the Vietnam era and Gulf War I. This group is concentrated in two age ranges - 38 percent were 45-54 and another 38 percent were 65 years and over, for a total of 76 percent. Men account for 9 in 10 veterans of "other service periods". Among most age groups, male veterans of service periods between the designated wartime periods had unemployment rates that were little different than those of male nonveterans. (Tables 1, 2A, 2B.)
  • Disabled Veterans. About 3.2 million veterans, or 15 percent,  reported a service-connected disability. The rate was nearly twice the overall rate, 29 percent, for Gulf War II veterans. Veterans with a service-connected disability had an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, little different from the rate for veterans with no disability (6.6 percent). One in three employed veterans with a service-connected disability worked in the public sector, a higher share than veterans with no disability, for whom the ratio was one in five. Regardless of period of service, 31 percent of employed veterans with a disability worked in federal, state, or local government, much higher than the 19 percent of veterans with no disability and 13 percent of nonveterans. The federal government employed 19 percent of veterans with a disability, nearly three times the rate, 7 percent, of veterans with no disability, and 2 percent of employed nonveterans. (Tables 7, 8.) 
  • Disabled Veterans by Severity of Disability.  Veterans with a service-connected disability are assigned a disability rating from 0 to 100 percent, in increments of 10 percentage points, depending on the severity of the condition. Among veterans with a service-connected disability, 35 percent reported a disability rating below 30 percent, while about 3 in 10 had a rating of 60 percent or higher. Veterans with a service-connected disability rating below 30 percent (i.e., 56 percent of all veterans) were nearly twice as likely to be in the labor force as those with a rating of 60 percent or higher (i.e., 28.9 percent of veterans). 
  • Employment and Unemployment among Disabled Veterans. Of Gulf War II veterans with a service-connected disability, 70.5 percent were in the labor force, lower than the labor force participation rate of 85.4 percent for veterans from this period with no service-connected disability. Among Gulf War II veterans, the unemployment rate of those with a disability was 8.6 percent, not statistically different from those with no disability (11.1 percent). Nearly 20 percent (589,000) of veterans who served during Gulf War I reported a service-connected disability. Their labor force participation rate (71.3 percent) was lower than the rate for veterans from the era who did not have a disability (86.8 percent). Unemployment rates for Gulf War I veterans with service-connected disabilities, 4.1 percent, was not  statistically different from that of those without, 6.5 percent. Among the 1.3 million veterans with a service-connected disability from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam eras, 16.8 percent were in the labor force, compared with 30.3 percent of veterans from these periods without. The unemployment rate of veterans with a disability from these wartime periods was 7.6 percent, not statistically different from their counterparts with no disability (5.3 percent). Veterans with a service-connected disability from other service periods had a labor force participation rate of 55.5 percent, below the 56.2 percent for veterans with no disability from these periods. Among veterans from other service periods, the unemployment rates of those with service-connected disabilities was 2.7 percent, not statistically different from the 5.3 percent for other veterans. (Tables 7, 8.)
  • Unemployment among Reserve or National Guard Members. Nearly 30 percent of Gulf War veterans were reported to be current or past members of the Reserve or National Guard. Unemployment rates were similar for those veterans compared with other veterans. Among Gulf War II veterans, those who were current or past members of the Reserve or National Guard had an 85.4 labor force participation rate, higher than the 77.4 percent rate for those who had never been members. For veterans of Gulf War I, labor force participation rates were similar for members and nonmembers. (Table 9.)
For links to all the original data by table, with full definitions and sources, go here.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

VET STORY 3 | Pilot Charlie Miner, Jr.

John Tepper Marlin (L) and Charlie Miner, Jr., John's
Island, Vero Beach, Fla., 2014.
I have been writing about the life of Will Woodin, FDR’s first Treasury Secretary, whose major contribution to ending the panic caused by bank failures has been neglected by history. 

Along the way, I have gotten to know several more members of the Greatest Generation, those who experienced the Great Depression and World War II. One of them is the grandson of Will Woodin, Charlie Miner Jr.  

He provided reminiscences about his grandfather that are quoted in my articles in the East Hampton Star about the Treasury Secretary and his boat, the "Nanin".  As we approach the 70th anniversary of D-Day this June, I recently talked with Charlie in Vero Beach, Fla., where he lives between September and June, asking him about his wartime experience.

The number of surviving veterans of World War II is tiny.  Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, only 27,560 were still alive in 2010 - excluding the 2,812 who also served in Korea and the 961 who also served in both Korea and Vietnam. One year later, in 2011, the number fell to 19,641, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

That is a loss of 28.7 percent. At that rate of loss, the number of living U.S. veterans from World War 2 fell below 10,000 in 2013 and will be down to barely 7,000 by the end of 2014 - i.e., 0.04 percent of all those who served. The median age of World War II active-duty survivors was 92 in 2011.

Charlie Miner, Jr. is one of those survivors and turned 92 a few months ago. He studied engineering with the Princeton Class of 1943. Before he graduated, he enlisted in the US Army Air Force and graduated from single-engine flying school in March 1943. He says:
Because I had an engineering background, I was assigned immediately to a sub-depot in Charlotte, N.C., where they rebuilt planes that had crashed within 500 miles of Charlotte. My job was to test-fly the rebuilt planes before they were returned to their home bases. A variety of planes were being rebuilt, so I got flying time in many types of aircraft.
Charlie was married in October 1944 and two weeks later reported for combat training in two-engine B-25 planes at the Greenville, N.C.  Army Air Base. The North American B-25 Mitchell bomber, named after General Billy Mitchell, an advocate of greater air power, is described on the Boeing website as the “most versatile” bomber in World War II. It had a crew of five — a pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, radio operator and gunner. Nearly 10,000 of the bombers were built between 1941 and 1945. According to official data, the B-25 was:
the most heavily armed airplane in the world, ... used for high- and low-level bombing, strafing, photoreconnaissance, submarine patrol and even as a fighter, and was distinguished as the aircraft that completed the historic raid over Tokyo in 1942. 
After his training, Miner was shipped off to Europe, and started flying missions out of Corsica, where he was instructed by RAF and RCAF pilots who had been assigned the B-25. While the B-25 was versatile, it could be delicate if flown above the maximum speed, which was 518 km/hour for the earliest model. Charlie still wonders about the risk-taking propensity of a few of his instructors:
Some of those RAF and Italian pilots were daredevils. They didn't seem to care if they lived or died. The Mosquito was a laminated-wood plane that could remain undetected by radar and yet break the sound barrier, and the pilots loved it. They would dive from 5,000 feet. In one case, the wing just came off. The pilot, of course, went straight down with the rest of the plane and was killed.
As later models of the Mitchell bomber (B-25A through B-25J) were developed, the armaments were increased to allow the bombers to shoot back at targets, and the maximum speed was lowered.

When the German army was pushed north in the Italian boot, Charlie's squadron relocated to Fano on the Adriatic, about 150 miles south of Venice. From here they flew about 17 missions at about 15,000 feet over the Brenner Pass in the Alps between Italy and Austria. Charlie can't remember exactly how many of these he was on, but enough to remember his friends going down into the snow below while he tried to stay in formation.

The war in Europe ended in May 1945. In July 1945, Charlie was assigned the task of flying a B-25 back across the Atlantic. He had to fly an indirect route because of the medium range of the planes. They could only go up to the theoretical 3,000-mile maximum by adding droppable fuel tanks. These extra tanks were utilized in the previously cited Doolittle (Tokyo) Raid in April 1942. According to official records:
The B-25B bombers could take off fast enough to be launched from an aircraft carrier, but they could not land safely on their return. They were supposed to find an airport in China. A combination of unexpected discovery and bad weather resulted in all 16 of the B-25Bs being lost in the raid, but Doolittle and his squadron got out of Japan and most of the crew members survived. Col. James ("Jimmy") Doolittle feared he would be court-martialed for the lost planes. Instead, he received the Medal of Honor from FDR and was raised two grades in rank to Lt.-General.
Charlie had to bring one of these B-25s back. He had to fly down the West African coast to avoid the North Atlantic squalls and provide for frequent refueling. He flew over to the Ascension Islands, then on to Natal, Brazil, then to San Juan, P.R. and to Savannah, Ga., refueling at each stop.

His B-25 safely returned to Stateside, he went back to civilian life. He first worked for the New York Central Railroad under Willard Place, Vice President for Finance. From there he went to work for  Owens-Corning Fiberglass in Darien, Conn.,  on the concept of building railroad cars with fiberglass-reinforced-plastic shells. While the concept eventually worked, the first impact stress-test by Pullman failed spectacularly as the experimental cars shattered. Charlie reoriented the idea, pioneering the application of fiberglass-reinforced plastics to the building of boats, an idea that succeeded and took over much of the industry.

Miner left the fiberglass business for Wall Street, working first for Rand & Co. in the municipal bond department. He then joined Clark Dodge & Co., in the same area. It became part of Dean Witter and later part of Morgan Stanley. Charlie Miner quit the business at nearly 70 years of age.

The toll - of the Depression, of World War II and just advancing age - on the survivors from Charlie's generation may be judged by the fact that he was told at his 70th reunion last year that only 125 members of his Princeton class of 1943 are still alive - out of the 630 original members of the class. Fewer than ten members of his class showed up and to his disappointment he didn’t know any of them. Charlie says: "I was told last year that only seven alumni have survived from the Princeton Class of 1936." He asked me contact his friend Dottie Werner the Princeton Alumni office and she quickly responded with an email to me confirming his numbers. But, she said, "the number from 1943 is down to 104 and the number from 1936 has dropped to five."

I was reminded by her email of Saints Going Marching In. "When I am 70 years out in 2032, I want to be in that number...", I thought to myself, "...maybe."

Charlie falls back on gallows humor about his being a Survivor. Here are some of his funniest comments:
  • At several places he hangs out, he says, “the average age is… deceased.” 
  • If you are playing golf for money, he says, “collect when you are two bucks ahead because your opponent may not finish the round.” 
  • Ocean Towers, he informs me, is also known among his colleagues as “the Pearly Gates.” 
  • The people who move on from there to Oak Harbor are said (even by their residents) to have gone to “Croak Harbor.” 
Some of the jokes told in his set relate to the high cost of some of their favorite Florida haunts in retirement areas:
  • A popular upscale grocery store in Vero Beach, the Village Beach Market, is called “Why Pay Less?” 
  • The Golf and Bay Club in Sarasota is nicknamed the “Golf and Pay” Club.
  • But despite it all, he says, quoting from a phlegmatic friend vacationing in Florida who was looking at clouds taking over the sky, "It's better than Massachusetts."