Veterans Among Several Work Groups Facing Unique Challenges When it Comes to Employment

While the national unemployment rate remained unchanged last month, several sectors of the labor market did not fare as well, including veterans, persons with disabilities, minorities and young adults. This month we take a look at each of these groups, looking at jobless stats for each as well as opportunities. We begin with veterans. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for Gulf war-era II veterans spiked to 11.7 percent in January, up from 9.9 percent in December. And while on a national basis women held a 7.3 percent unemployment rate, on par with adult men, the disparity in the jobless rate between Post-9/11 veteran women and men was vast – or 17.1 percent for women as compared to 10.5 percent for their male counterparts.

While the unemployment rate for veterans as a whole is on par with the national average (or 7.6%), veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq (also known as Post 9/11 veterans) have been saddled with unique burdens post-service – a weak employment outlook, lack of higher education in lieu of military service, just to name a few. And as the Afghanistan War ends, some 300,000 plus veterans will be back in the labor force seeking civilian work.

On the ‘bright side’ – more employers are seeking candidates with veteran status; a combination of looking for candidates with unique skill-sets as well as government incentives to hire could benefit all veterans looking for a job.

If you are an unemployed veteran there are several legislative orders and educational programs available that could help you as you prepare for your next phase of employment.

  • The Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act expands education and training opportunities for veterans and also provides tax credits to employers to encourage the hiring of veterans with service-related disabilities. These tax breaks were set up expressly to encourage veteran hiring.
  • The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act – or VEVRAA (established by Congress in 1974 and amended since) mandates that employers who have contracts with the Federal government take affirmative action and make jobs available to qualified veterans, including disabled veterans, veterans who have enlisted in the Armed Forces and those in the active reserves or National Guard. This is a mandate that contractors need to abide by or face stiff penalties.
  • The Government also provides various federal student aid programs that veterans can take advantage of, including the Post 9/11 GI and Montgomery GI Bills and the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (or VEAP), all of which enable veterans to use their benefits to pursue education in areas such as a degree, certificates, apprenticeship/on-the-job training programs, and vocational flight training programs.
  • And when it comes to jobs that favor veterans expressly because of their military experience, there are many. Valued professions such as Information Technology, police, and firefighting services are well-suited to ex-service members because of their advanced training in these areas.

To search for employers seeking candidates from the veteran’s community, visit our Veterans Exchange today.

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