When the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported dismal job growth statistics in December, the outcry missed another alarming statistic: 588000 American veterans are still unemployed. The fact that the economy and the employment market has been performing dismally does not entirely explain away this particular issue. The unemployment rate among the veterans is far higher than the general unemployment rates witnessed in the job market of today, indicating that their efforts to find work in the civilian world seem to be running into unyielding resistance from employers.
In an economy where 21 million people are without jobs, it is hard for veterans to come off active duty, find suitable jobs, and fit into civilian life. Let us look at some statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on veteran unemployment which provide an accurate picture of the situation. Actual numbers are presented through 2012, with BLS estimates provided for 2013.
The jobless rate for all U.S. veterans was just 7.0 percent in 2012 — 0.9 points lower than for the non-veteran population. But the unemployment rate for the veterans of the Gulf War Era II at 9.9% stands 2.0 points higher than for the non-veteran workforce population. In 2013, the BLS estimates that the overall unemployment rate is lower in all categories. However, despite numerous efforts aimed at encouraging veteran employment, the gap between Gulf War-era II veterans remains 0.9 points higher. The numbers clearly show that the unemployment rate of recent, younger veterans is higher than it is for non-veterans.
Reasons why Veterans face unemployment:
Veterans for Temporary State Jobs
The Vow to Hire Heroes Act which offers tax breaks to businesses which hire veterans has expired. Against this scenario, new initiatives to increase the number of veterans hired are needed. New York has taken the lead on this matter, with the “Veterans’ Employment Act” (S5504A) to help returning veterans transition back to civilian life. This new law gives preference in state contracts to service-connected disabled veterans. This is a win-win solution as the veterans will transition to civilian jobs while employers increase their access to capable and dedicated workers. In many cases, a good fit with the job could lead to a more permanent role.
While this is a good first step, others would like to see additional proactive actions to induce businesses to hire veterans. New York Assembly Candidate Dan Castricone is pushing for additional legislation to return to employers a tax rebate on their state employment taxes for each new military veteran they hire. His plan would also forgive increases in unemployment taxes for new veteran hires. Other private organizations as well as state agencies are proposing programs to address the need to return veterans to the workforce.
America celebrates Veteran’s Day on November 11th every year. As the holiday approaches, journalists and politicians talk incessantly about the “veteran unemployment crisis”. Let us keep in mind that the need to find meaningful employment continues throughout the year. Now that New York has shown the way, let us hope more states will follow its example.
To learn more about programs available to assist veterans in transitioning to the private sector or pursuing entrepreneurial goals, please check out the blog http://militaryonlinecolleges.org/veteran-entrepreneurship on the Military Online Colleges website.
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