Does Friday’s Jobs Report Give Vets Reason for Optimism?
Posted by Kate O'Gorman on August 7
On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the July unemployment rate. According to their surveys, the unemployment rate for new veterans dropped to 8.9%, just above the national unemployment rate of 8.3%. So far in 2012, we’ve seen a downward trend in the unemployment rate for new veterans compared to the same time period one year ago. We’re cautiously optimistic that the employment situation for veterans may be improving, but we still have a long way to go.
The improved numbers may be the result of hard work from the government, private sector, and groups like IAVA that have been charging against veteran unemployment. The government’s bipartisan VOW to Hire Heroes Act, spearheaded by Rep. Jeff Miller [R-FL] and Sen. Patty Murray [D-WA], encourages businesses to hire veterans, helps translate military skills into their civilian equivalents, and provides better access to critical jobs training for today’s economy. Perhaps that’s why more companies have been stepping up to hire veterans, understanding the value that service men and women bring to the table. As for IAVA, we partnered with a major financial institution to survey many of these employment and financial challenges, and while the results are forthcoming, we’ve seen how the current environment presents continuing challenges that may impact the numbers going forward.
According to IAVA’s membership survey, 37% of IAVA’s members work in the government with many more veterans hoping to join. This is cause for concern when one considers that the government shed 9,000 jobs this month alone, and over 600,000 since January 2009. If this trend continues or worsens with expected budget cuts, it could be a threat to bettering the veteran unemployment numbers.
With the end of the war in Iraq and as the war in Afghanistan comes to a close, more veterans are returning home. Some may choose to continue their career in the military, but many may separate. Others in the Guard and Reserve are coming home to their civilian careers.
With these and other continuing challenges, it is hard to celebrate what appears to be progress in the veteran unemployment numbers. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan coming to a close, more veterans are returning home and we must be ready to help them transition over to civilian jobs, or in the case of our Guard and Reserve troops, come home to the jobs they left behind.
The BLS’s declining numbers may be cause for some cautious optimism, but we’ll have to stay tuned.
IAVA has helped thousands of veterans. Here are some of their stories:
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On August 5th, IAVA Member Veterans joined President Obama at the Navy Yard…