The unemployment rate among military veterans has dropped to its lowest point since 2008 last year, as the U.S. government hit a high for hiring former troops, according to federal data.

Recently released numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 5.3 percent of veterans were jobless last year, representing a decrease of 1.3 percentage points compared to 2013 and the fourth consecutive year of improvement.

Meanwhile, about 33 percent of all new hires for the federal government were former service members, according to a report from the Office of Personnel Management.

President Obama signed an executive order in 2009 requiring federal agencies to focus on recruiting and hiring more former troops for work with the U.S. government.

[Obama push to hire veterans into federal jobs spurs resentment]

Veteran unemployment reached an Obama administration high in January 2011, when the non-seasonally adjusted jobless rate for that segment of the population reached nearly 10 percent. Since then, the rate has generally declined and stayed below the unemployment rate for the overall workforce.

Despite the encouraging trend, younger veterans have struggled with joblessness. The BLS data show that unemployment for post-9/11 veterans last year was 7.2 percent, higher than the national average of 6.2 percent.

[Youngest veterans struggle most with unemployment, data shows]

The Schultz Family Foundation and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families recently teamed up to address the issue with a new initiative to bring civilian-sector skills training to service members directly on U.S. military bases. The program is scheduled to launch nationwide this spring on up to six bases.

“These young people have incredible leadership, discipline, and other vital skills, and companies need their talents,” the foundation said in a statement this week. “But both transitioning service members and companies often do not know how to apply military experience to civilian careers, or how to fill industry-specific skill gaps.”