Veteran business owners drive our economy and power the American Dream. As these patriots apply many of the skills they obtained in the Armed Forces, they make valuable and lasting contributions to our robust business landscape. During National Veterans Small Business Week, we celebrate these hardworking men and women who defended our Nation in uniform and continue to strengthen it by starting businesses when they return to civilian life.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, veteran unemployment was at a record all-time low. Nearly 2.5 million veteran-owned small businesses employed close to 6 million people, generating more than a trillion dollars in sales annually. The contributions and achievements of our veterans were essential to building a robust and thriving American economy, and they will be critical as we continue to rebuild it in the wake of the coronavirus.
Already, we see robust economic growth and jobs returning at a record pace. Our economy grew at an astounding rate of 33.1 percent in the third quarter of this year—more than twice as fast as any other period in our country’s history. In September, we added 661,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.9 percent while manufacturing and construction sectors—prominent industries for veterans—have seen more than a million new jobs added since April. We shall soon be back to where we were before the pandemic—well ahead of the schedule predicted by the experts.
There is no group of patriots more dedicated, brilliant, and tenacious than our cherished veterans, and their entrepreneurial spirit is helping to fuel our V-shaped recovery. Throughout National Veterans Small Business Week, we commend our veterans who strengthen our economy, propel our prosperity, and fuel our culture of freedom. These men and women are the pride of our Nation, inspiring us with their courage, service, and character.