BLS Report: New Veteran Unemployment Dips to 9.5%
Posted by Kate O'Gorman on July 6
Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released unemployment numbers for June. According to the BLS estimates, the unemployment rate for new veterans dipped to 9.5% last month, still more than a percentage point higher than the national average of 8.2%. Over the first months of 2012, we have seen some cautious improvement over the same period from last year, but numbers still remain higher than the national average. The bottom line behind the numbers? During June, 196,000 new veterans were looking for work, and it suggests that concerted, effective efforts to hire veterans are making a significant impact.
Many businesses are answering that call with initiatives to hire veterans. Last month, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a report that discussed veteran employment from the perspectives of employers. The report talked about why businesses are hiring veterans and what the private, nonprofit, and public sectors can do to make it easier for businesses to identify and hire veterans.
CNAS found that businesses aren’t just hiring veterans because it makes them look good; they are hiring veterans because they value both the hard and soft skills that veterans bring to the workforce. Businesses spoke about the leadership and teamwork experience of veterans, their ability to work in rapidly changing environments, their character and discipline, and more. And they remarked that many veterans have much of the technical skills and expertise they seek for their companies.
The report first identified reasons that companies hire veterans. These businesses spoke about many of the soft skills that veterans learn: their leadership and teamwork experience, character and discipline, their ability to work in the rapidly changing environments during combat, their loyalty, among others. They also reported hiring veterans for the expertise many veterans develop while serving in the military.
But, the same employers also identified many challenges when attempting to hire veterans. Some businesses experienced difficulty in translating military skills and experience, a sentiment echoed in the Society for Human Resources Management annual survey of human resource professionals. Others were worried about the negative stereotypes surrounding veterans, such as concerns about PTSD. Others talked about the need for veterans to have a transition period to re-acclimate to civilian life before starting a career. They also have concerns about future deployments and have trouble finding veterans for their positions.
One of CNAS’s top recommendations was that the private, public and nonprofit sectors should focus on social reasons for hiring veterans – they should focus on the business case for hiring veterans. These employers identified many of the benefits that veterans bring to the civilian workforce, and by touting these benefits, stakeholders may motivate companies to cut through the challenges in hiring veterans.
Today’s numbers underscored the importance of working with the private sector to sponsor initiatives to hire veterans. And more and more businesses are starting efforts to hire veterans. But, CNAS was right in underscoring that hiring veterans is not charity, it’s a smart business decision. They’ve lead for years oversees and now stand ready – with the skills necessary – to lead again at home.
In 2012, IAVA is tackling veterans’ unemployment on every front, in both the public and private sectors. At the start of 2012, IAVA's 2012 Survey showed the unemployment rate at 17 percent nationally for IAVA members. Innovative job fairs are a key part of IAVA’s Employment Program to lower new veteran unemployment and engage both sectors on solutions to ease veterans’ transition from combat to career. In the coming months, IAVA and Hiring Our Heroes will sponsor job fairs for new veterans and their spouses in Atlanta, Dallas and San Francisco. Veterans can register to attend in these cities here.
Kate O'Gorman serves as IAVA's Policy Coordinator in Washington, D.C. She works closely with the Policy Director to support the needs of the Policy & Research departments. She received her BA in political science from Barnard College.
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