Recent employment numbers from the Labor Department (May 2012) show little improvement in the job market, especially for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Overall, the report shows the national unemployment rate is 9.1 percent, with little change in the last month because the economy created only 54,000 net jobs in May.
The May report shows a worsening job market for veterans.
For veterans of all generations, the unemployment rate for May was 8.3 percent. For veterans who left the military after 2001, the Iraq and Afghanistan generation, the May unemployment rate is 12.1 percent. For April, the overall unemployment rate for veterans was 7.7 percent, and the unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans was 11.7 percent.
Marshall Hanson of the Reserve Officers Association said the unemployment picture is even worse for some segments of the veterans’ population. For veterans ages 20 to 24, the unemployment rate has been about 27 percent. For Army National Guard units returning from deployment, unemployment rates are “as high as 45 percent,” Hanson said June 1 in testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Tackling unemployment is the top priority for veterans’ service organizations, which met earlier this week with House Republican leaders to press the point. The lawmakers reacted immediately, with Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., announcing he was working on legislation to find jobs for 400,000 veterans over two years or less to drop the overall veterans’ unemployment rate to 4.5 percent.
There also is large and growing bipartisan support for a bill, the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, that takes a comprehensive approach to changing Labor, Veterans and Defense Department programs aimed at helping veterans find jobs. The chief sponsor of that bill is Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairwoman.