My son was born on Groundhog Day, and he gets irritated to no end, when reminded of it. Why consecrate a day to groundhogs seeking a shadow? Ever wondered why we feel compelled to make a fuss about a few out of the 365 days in a year and earmark some of them in honor of someone or something? As Valentines’ Day comes around each year, I see many people questioning the sense of having a single day set aside for ‘romantic love’; what happens on all the other days? Better sense prevails when we look at it as a way to bring the focus back on a cherished relationship – which may otherwise be overwhelmed by the humdrum chores that life heaps on us. We, at DCR Workforce, always believe that Veterans’ Day is a day that very appropriately encourages us to reflect on what we owe our military personnel for willingly laying down life and limb for our national security and integrity. Their sacrifices help us sleep better at night. The Government has exhorted employers to come forward and make a difference to the employment opportunities for veterans and there is no time like Veterans’ Day to review the status of the promises and their fulfillment. Over the past year, much positive action was taken.
The results are there for us to see in the latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which shows that the unemployment rate among veterans across the various categories has shown a downward trend. The number of employed veterans shows an increase in 3 out of 5 categories. The decline in employment is to be found in the World War II, Korean War and Vietnam-era and other service period categories. It must be noted that the advancing years of the veterans (with 63,000 of them being over 65 years of age) could have caused this decline naturally as they choose to retire from workforce participation. The economy as a whole has seen a decline in the unemployment rate, but the rate of unemployment of veterans has shown a steeper decline at 2.85% across 4 categories when compared to the 1.4% decline seen by non-veterans alone.
As demonstrated by the above graph, this decline in unemployment was manifested across categories and was not gender specific or limited in its application. The Way Ahead One major concern with veteran unemployment has been the need to find quality jobs for veterans in the 18-29 age group. Current government plans to downsize the size of the military will result in an increase in the number of veterans in this age group who are looking for civilian work. This means that the decline in veteran unemployment will be short-lived, as these and more veterans return to civilian status. Some of these veterans may have been physically disabled in war. So employers committed to hiring veterans may not sit back and rest on their laurels. More efforts are needed by both the public and private sector to provide the needed opportunities. Employers and returning veterans may also note that all the tax incentives and benchmarks in the world cannot ensure employment to anyone, unless they showcase skills required by employers along with the necessary aptitude and attitude. Additional training is needed to build upon the critical skills developed through their military experience. Counseling programs also prove critical when making the adjustment back to civilian life. All of us need to be reminded that, while progress is being made, there is much left to be done.
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