Friday is Veterans Day, and chances are some of the nation’s most recent vets are hoping it’s the day they get a job.
The unemployment rate for veterans who have served since September 2001 — referred to by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as Gulf War II-era vets — was 12.1 percent in October. That's well above the comparable, non-seasonally adjusted rate of 8.5 percent for the broader population.
It’s also higher than the overall jobless rate for all veterans, which was at 7.7 percent last month.
The unemployment rate for post-9/11 vets has bounced around dramatically over the past few years, in part because it’s a relatively small slice of the population. But it has generally been above the national average.
The 12.1 percent rate for October translates into 240,000 veterans of the most recent wars who were looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Joe Sharpe, economic director of the veterans’ organization The American Legion, said the biggest issue facing recent vets is the same one facing millions of others: The weak economy.
But he said the tough job market is even worse for young veterans because they have been serving in the military rather than going to school and making professional connections.
“They’re just not as competitive that way as their peers, those that are not deployed, those that have the opportunity to network or finish (their) education or get certified in specific skills,” he said.
Sharpe would like to see ways for veterans to more easily get certified to use the skills they learned in the military, whether it’s health care or pipe fitting. He thinks that would make it easier for them to find work.
“They’ve already been trained (and they) already have a great deal of experience, so it really doesn’t make sense to spend additional money learning,” Sharpe said.
The situation could get worse in the coming months as U.S. troops pull out of Iraq and more enter civilian life.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama pushed for tax credits for firms that hire veterans, as well as a program to give extra help to veterans seeking work.