In May 2018, veteran unemployment is down slightly at 3.4 percent, according to data published by the U.S. Department of Labor. This compares to the national unemployment rate of 3.8 in May 2018, published by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This is more than a 20 percent decrease since 2016 and almost a 10 percent decrease since 2017.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a part of the U.S. Department of Labor, issues a comprehensive report on the employment of veterans every year. The report stated that unemployment for veterans is at 3.7 percent, based on data collected in 2017.

This is compared to 4.3 percent unemployment using the same data from 2016.

How is this determined? Data was collected using the Current Population Survey, or CPS. Monthly, the survey is sent to about 60,000 households in the United States to get information about employment and unemployment. This includes veterans and their families.

An additional survey was sent out in August 2017 to collect information from veterans “on topics such as service-connected disability and veterans’ current or past Reserve or National Guard membership.”

What does this mean? While employment is still a level that veteran groups are working on, current initiatives to train and hire veterans seem to be making progress.

Corporate programs to recruit and hire veterans can be thanked for contributing to the decrease in veteran unemployment. Companies such as Starbucks and Amazon, along with many local businesses, have started initiatives to get veterans into their workforce.

Other programs, such as Transition Support Services, have helped those retiring or separating from military service prepare for civilian life and employment. With seminars on résumé writing, job interviewing, and successfully navigating a job search, the program helps military members at all levels make the transition to the workforce.

The post-9/11 GI bill is another big contributor. Qualifying military members get tuition and a living stipend to attend college after serving a minimum period in the military. This helps prepare them for employment with additional skills and education.

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The decrease in unemployed veterans is also a reflection of the overall state of the economy and job market. National unemployment rates have been decreasing over the past 10 years, with a high of 10.2 percent in October 2009.

Veterans in need. Even with numerous successful programs and decreasing unemployment numbers, veterans remain in need.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that just over 40,000 veterans are homeless, although accurate data are hard to collect based on “the transient nature of homeless populations.”

Related: 10 Ways Veterans Can Save Your Company

Veteran homelessness remains a top priority of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, who attended the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans annual conference this month.

“We’re not happy about it, but we recognize what is going on,” he told Military Times when speaking about the increase in homeless veterans.

The Department of Veterans Affairs works to support veterans, including those in need of stable housing with health care, financial support, and other skill-building initiatives. Nonprofit organizations serving their local communities have also been very effective at combating veteran homelessness.

“The more effective programs for homeless and at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit, ‘veterans helping veterans’ groups,” reports the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

Related: Even with Endless Wars, America Has Fewer Veterans Than Before

Some data on veteran homelessness show decreases, such as statistics released by the Department of Veterans Affairs on the Los Angeles community. Organizations dedicated to helping homeless veterans find affordable, permanent housing are celebrating these numbers as a sign of things to come.

Katie Begley is an OpsLens contributor, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a former surface warfare officer. In addition to being a military spouse, she is a freelance writer specializing in travel, education and parenting subjects. This piece originally appeared in OpsLens.

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