Private Sector Push to Hire Veterans Eases Employment Outlook

The effort launched by the White House and adopted by corporate America to hire military veterans seems to be paying dividends, with service members entering the civilian workforce finding a much friendlier reception from potential employers.

A slowly improving economy likely also is a factor in veterans’ enhanced employment prospects, but the public commitments by large employers to seek out veterans stand out, reports the Los Angeles Times.

So far, 2,000 businesses have partnered with Joining Forces, the initiative dedicated to supporting military families and veterans that was started two years ago by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. More recently, Walmart pledged to offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran in the year after he or she leaves active duty. The company projects its commitment will result in hiring more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years. Private equity firm Blackstone Group said it plans to hire 50,000 veterans over that same time span.

The most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics bears out the improved outlook for veterans. In June, the jobless rate for post-9/11 veterans dropped to 7.2 percent, the fifth straight month the rate has dropped for the most recent generation of veterans, reported the Navy Times. As recently as January, the unemployment rate for recent veterans was 11.7 percent.

Job prospects brightened for older generations of veterans as well, as the unemployment rate for all veterans fell to 6.3 percent in June while the nation’s overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 7.6 percent.

Still, young veterans face considerably more challenges than their civilian peers in finding jobs.

“Overall veterans, especially that group who are 18 to 34, are still disproportionately represented in terms of their struggles to find employment,” Keith Boylan, deputy secretary of veteran services for the California Department of Veterans Affairs, told the Times. “All their peers are ahead with networking and experience. They are behind the chase.”

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