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NEW JEC REPORT EXAMINES THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION OF AMERICA’S VETERANS

May 31 2011

Washington, D.C. – A new report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) finds that veterans who have served on active duty since September 2001 face the highest unemployment rate among all veterans -- 10.9 percent in April 2011.  The report shines a spotlight on the need for additional congressional action to help veterans transition from military service to the civilian workforce.

Entitled “Meeting the Needs of Veterans In Today’s Labor Force,” the report finds that recent veterans today face an unemployment rate more than three percentage points higher than the unemployment rate for all veterans.    Additionally, the report finds that Post-9/11 veterans were more likely than nonveterans to work in industries such as manufacturing and construction, which were hit hard during the Great Recession, and less likely to work in education and health services, which expanded during the recession.

“This new report highlights the unacceptably high jobless rate among men and women who have served our country since September 2001.  These courageous servicemembers  who have served  in Iraq and Afghanistan are still feeling the effects of the Great Recession,” said Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the JEC.  “As we observe Memorial Day and remember those who died defending our country, we must ensure that we are doing everything possible to help veterans finds jobs when they return home and begin the next chapter of their lives.”

The report finds that federal efforts to help veterans shift from military life to civilian employment are falling short.   Education and training for veterans needs to target expanding sectors of the economy, such as education and health care, the report notes.   Additionally, veterans need more help in translating expertise acquired during their military service into skills sought by private-sector employers.

To update and strengthen the programs that help veterans find civilian employment, Senator Casey last week introduced the Transition Assistance Program Audit Act (S. 1104).  The legislation calls for an independent third party audit of the DoL-VETS program every three years to ensure that it is providing services that are up-to-date and useful in matching veterans to employers.

Additionally, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has introduced the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011 which helps veterans transition successfully from military service to the working world by authorizing new programs aimed at improving the transition from servicemember to civilian employee by working with nonprofit organizations that provide mentorship and job training programs.

Continued Casey, “The courageous men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country deserve first-rate employment services to help them return to civilian life. We should honor our veterans by making sure they get the resources, support and help they need when they return home.”

Additional report highlights include:

  • In 2010, Post-9/11 veterans faced an average unemployment rate almost 3 percentage points higher than the overall veteran-unemployment rate – 11.5 percent vs. 8.7 percent.
  • This year, post-9/11 veterans continue to face higher rates of unemployment.  In April 2011, their unemployment rate was 10.9 percent compared to 7.7 percent for the entire veteran population.  Younger male veterans (ages 18-24) have experienced especially high rates of unemployment – 26.9 percent.
  • Nearly 2.5 million men and women have left active duty in the Armed Forces since September 2001, accounting for 11 percent of the total U.S. veteran population. Although women make up a larger share of Post?9/11 veterans than of any other time period in U.S. history, four?fifths of recent veterans (81 percent) are male.
  • One-quarter of Post-911 veterans report a service-related disability, which may foreshadow continuing employment problems.  Disabled veterans are more likely to be employed by the public sector, but budget problems may lead to declines in employment among state, local and federal government workers.

Added Casey, “It is unacceptable that our veterans face these significant employment challenges after coming home.  Strengthening our veterans employment programs will help veterans fully participate in the workforce and will help strengthen our economy.”

 

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