The jobless rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans fell dramatically in June despite an overall economy that produced few jobs and left the national unemployed rate unchanged.
The unemployment rate for Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans fell to 9.5 percent, down from 12.7 percent the previous month and from 13.3 percent in June 2011, according to the employment situation report released Friday by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For veterans of all generations, the June jobless rate was 7.4 percent, a slight improvement over the 7.8 percent rate for May.
The national unemployment rate remains 8.2 percent in a sour economy that produced just 80,000 jobs last month.
Big month-to-month changes in veterans’ unemployment can be the result of statistical flukes because the Labor Department’s monthly report is based on a survey of about 200,000 people, of whom just 22,000 are veterans. The June survey included just 2,600 people who left active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, to draw conclusions about the jobless rate for the newest generation of veterans.
Still, the statistical improvement comes amidst a continuing expansion of federal and private-sector programs aimed at helping veterans get jobs.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Chamber of Commerce jointly sponsored a hiring fair in Detroit last week that officials said resulted in 1,300 job offers going to veterans, and there are plans to hold similar events in other locations.
VA also announced Tuesday that it is helping veteran-owned small businesses by exceeding its own goal for purchasing goods and services from veteran- and disabled veteran-owned firms. More than 18 percent of procurement dollars went to disabled veteran-owned businesses, exceeding the goal of 10 percent set by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, and 20 percent went to veteran-owned businesses, exceeding the goal of 12 percent, VA officials said.
A series of grants also have been announced to encourage hiring veterans. For example, the Transportation Department announced Monday that it is awarding grants to improve transportation access so that veterans and their families could reach jobs.
Just before the report was released, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America announced a new partnership with New York’s Lincoln Center for Performing Arts that will provide “fast track” hiring procedures for veterans to fill a variety of jobs at the center. The partnership also involves providing free tickets for veterans and their families to some events.
More programs are coming.
More than 25,000 unemployed veterans, aged 35 to 60, have signed up to take part in the first phase of a two-year job training program, the Veterans Reemployment Assistance Program or VRAP, that provides one year of monthly GI Bill benefits to those enrolled in education or vocational training programs that should qualify them at the end for a job in a high-demand skills.
There is still room in the program, which can sign up 45,000 veterans now and another 54,000 veterans beginning in October.
By Rick Maze, Staff writer
July 6, 2012