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On 1 June 2012 the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released, on the BLS website (and attached to this blog), national employment and unemployment data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) for the month of May 2012.  The data for 20+ year Veterans (20 or more years as a veteran) has seen a sharp decrease in the number employed from May 2000 thru May 2012. For 20+ year Veterans in May of 2000, the unemployment rate was 2.3%, for May 2006 it was 3.3% and by the end of May 2012, the unemployment rate was 7.8%!  Overall, the rate of unemployment for 20+ year Veterans has drastically increased from May 2000-2012 with a 1.0% increase from 2000-2006 and a 4.5% increase from May 2006-2012.

Gulf War II Veterans also had frightening statistics to show in regards to unemployment rates.  Amongst Gulf War II era Veterans over the age of 18, in May 2006 the unemployment rate was 5.3%, in May 2009 it was 11.4% and by the end of May 2012, the unemployment rate was 12.7%.  Again these statistics show a disturbingly high increase in the rate of unemployment for veterans from May 2006-2012 with a 7.4% increase.  Looking more closely at specific age groups by the end of May 2012, amongst Gulf War II era Veterans, the unemployment rate amongst these veterans, ages 18-24, was a very high 23.5%.  For ages 25-34, the unemployment rate went down to 14.7%, for ages 35-44, the unemployment rate was 6.4% and for ages 45-54, the unemployment rate was 7.5%.

These final statistics show that there is a large difference in the unemployment rate between each age groups of 18-24, 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54.  Clearly veterans 35-44 and 45-54 present the group with the lowest rate of unemployment, with the oldest veteran group range, 45-54, holding a 16% difference from 18-24 year olds.

With the release of this information, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) announced a hearing to examine the progress made by government contractors in the hiring of military veterans. Under current federal law, contractors and subcontractors are required to take steps to promote opportunities for qualified veterans.  The hearing today, 5 June 2012, of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight (SOCO) will review whether these requirements are improving hiring and employment of veterans.  In a press release, Senator McCaskill stated that, "If you're getting government contracts, especially through the Department of Defense, you need to be taking steps to make sure that military veterans are well represented in your employee workforce." In preparation for the hearing, SOCO released a Veterans Fact Sheet (attached to this blog as well) detailing data that had been provided by government contractors to the Department of Labor about veterans hiring practices.

As the premier voice for our nation’s Navy, you can be assured that AUSN is actively pursuing legislation to help lower these unacceptable veteran unemployment rates and ease the many burdens our servicemembers face.  Please re-visit some of our legislative alerts such as Legislative Alert 112-14: Helping Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Return to Employment (HIRE) at Home Act, Legislative Alert 112-9: The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Modernization Act, and Legislative Alert 112-7: The Veteran Skills to Jobs Act.

Please continue to contact your Representatives and Senators and voice your concerns by using our Contact Congress feature and help get the word out.  This is an ALL HANDS ON DECK effort and your grassroots advocacy will help make the changes that need to happen!

Posted in: Capitol Hill Blog

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