By Debbie Gregory.
In 2011, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law a program giving employers tax credits to encourage veteran employment. Other programs also have encouraged companies and government agencies to hire veterans.
In spite of those efforts, the unemployment rate for the youngest generation of veterans jumped to 6.3 percent in January, the fourth time in the last seven months that group’s figure has been substantially higher than the overall veteran rate.
The figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reflect the last month of President Barack Obama’s time in office, represent about 211,000 Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans looking for work. That’s almost 46 percent of the total of all U.S. veterans filing for unemployment benefits in January.
Young veterans, the ones between the ages of 18 and 34, face challenges in the employment marketplace that non-veterans never have to face and that older veterans have already overcome.
In many cases, it is hard to translate the work that was done in the service to a civilian equivalence. There are also few calls for riflemen, artillery spotters, missile technicians and many other military positions.
The January 2017 veteran unemployment rate was 4.5 percent, compared to the non-veteran rate of 5.0 percent. In December, the Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans’ rate was 5.7 percent.
With additional training and responsibility, the unemployment rate of young veterans should be lower than the rest of the population. That’s why the higher number of unemployed younger veterans does raise concerns.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics officials estimate that nearly 9.8 million veterans are in the U.S. workforce today, with roughly 32 percent of them having served in the military after 2001.