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BLS Reports February 2015 Unemployment Rates

Today the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported that the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 veterans* decreased from 7.9 percent in January 2015 to 6.7 percent in February 2015. Among all veterans, unemployment rates remained unchanged, holding at 5.3 percent for February 2015. The national employment rate went from 5.7 in January to 5.5 percent in February. March6 Employment chart

While there are still many veterans represented among the unemployed, those who are employed are often highly skilled and highly valued in the workplace. Once we invest in veterans, the research shows that the results are a more skilled labor force, better team members and better employees.

A recent RAND report highlights some of these data and emphasizes the need for more targeted research to better quantify these benefits. “Connecting Veterans and Employers,” details some of the challenges faced by veterans during the transition from uniformed service member to civilian employee. Researchers found that employers generally value their veteran employees for their leadership and teamwork skills, and tend to believe that veteran employees perform better than their nonveteran counterparts. However, employers tend to report these and other observations about veteran retention via informal and anecdotal data rather than using formal, standardized metrics.

The RAND report suggests several potential improvements for private companies and federal agencies aiming to attract, retain, and fully utilize the veteran workforce. The recommendations boil down to providing a long-term mentoring program to support and grow veteran talent throughout their professional tenure. Companies should invest in more long-term planning and focus on retaining and managing veteran employees rather than targeting veterans solely during recruitment. They should also focus on educating managers, who must be able to appreciate what veterans can bring to the table before they will personally invest in recruiting and retaining veteran employees.

Both private industry and government agencies have a part to play in improving employment outcomes for our nation’s veterans, and this is reflected in many of the report recommendations. The Transition Assistance Program will need continuous evaluation and improvement to meet the needs of current and future veterans, as will training and internship programs, which may need to be expanded for transitioning service members. IAVA has made recommendations to improve the Transition Assistance Program previously, which can be seen in our 2014 Policy Agenda.

While implementing these changes will take a concerted effort across government agencies and the private sector, these efforts will reap significant benefits for veterans transitioning into civilian career paths. Our veterans and military service members have always had our back, it is only right that we support them in their careers when they return home.

* Unemployment rates for the Post 9/11 generation tend to show more variability, in large part because of the small population sample size used to calculate this rate.

For veterans who are facing hardship due to being underemployed or unemployed, we encourage you to contact our Rapid Response Referral (RRRP) team to get connected with resources to help you. Contact us directly by calling the toll free number: 855-91-RAPID (855-917-2743) emailing transition@iava.org.

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