Unemployment continued to plague Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans at a higher rate than non-vets in 2011, according to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The unemployment rate for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan stood at 12.1 percent in 2011, up from 11.5 percent in 2010. Non-veterans, on the other hand, actually saw a lower unemployment rate in 2011. Last year’s unemployment rate for non-veterans dropped to 8.7 percent from 2010’s rate of 9.4 percent.
But more recent figures indicate the vet unemployment crisis may be beginning to thaw, which would not only help the housing market but the overall economy as well.
Recent Government Action
Unemployment was particularly common among young male veterans in 2011. The unemployment rate for 18-24 year-old veterans was 29.1 percent in 2011, compared to 17.6 percent for the same demographic of non-veterans.
The federal government is taking some action against veteran unemployment, with several initiatives in various stages of enactment. In November 2011, President Obama signed “The Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011,” a bill that gives a $5,600 tax credit to employers hiring veterans who have been jobless for at least six months. The tax credit increases to $9,600 for employers who hire jobless vets with a disability.
That bill also expanded job skills training for service members and streamlined federal hiring procedures, enabling veterans to re-enter the civilian or government workforce more quickly.
The White House has also suggested creating a Veterans Job Corps, which the administration claims could employ as many as 20,000 veterans to maintain America’s land and resources.
Veteran entrepreneurs may also receive increased support through the proposed expansion of the Transition Assistance Program. Growth of that department could provide more in-depth entrepreneurial training programs and greater small business development opportunities for veterans.
2012 Showing Early Improvement
Data for January and February 2012 show that unemployment is actually falling for veterans. January’s unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans fell from 15.2 percent in 2011 to 9.1 percent in 2012. February also experienced a significant unemployment rate decline, from 12.5 percent in 2011 to 7.6 percent in 2012.
But analysts are hesitant to draw lasting conclusions from the recent trend, stating that annual rates are more telling than month-to-month figures.
“If you look at a whole year, you’re going to get a more accurate picture than if you look at an individual month,” said Kevin Schmiegel, who heads veterans employment initiatives for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Photo courtesy of Bytemarks