Today’s stronger-than-expected jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also contained good news for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The unemployment rate for veterans of the two wars fell from 15.2 percent a year ago to 9.1 percent last month, while the national unemployment rate fell from 9.1 percent to 8.3 percent during the same period.
The report also showed a big drop for the entire veteran population, as the unemployment rate fell from 9.9 percent to 7.5 percent, lower than the national average.
The news is surely a welcome relief to the veteran community that has been hit especially hard by the weak economy. Unemployment rates for post-9/11 veterans have consistently remained above the national average, and a recent report issued by the U.S Army shows that the impact on returning soldiers has been devastating.
With the backing of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an emphasis on hiring veterans was a key component of President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act, which was blocked at every turn by congressional Republicans. After voting down the full jobs bill in the Senate and House, Congress passed the Vow to Hire Heroes Act as a standalone bill nearly unanimously in November. The law provides tax credits to employers who hire veterans.
Today, President Obama spoke in Arlington, Virginia to unveil further efforts to place an increasing number of returning veterans in jobs. He called for an additional $6 billion in spending to place as many as 20,000 veterans in jobs, and is asking Congress to increase funding in the next budget for programs that will place veterans in local police and fire departments.