Many recent vets face another battle: Finding a job

March 20, 2012 at 11:17 AM ET

Ralph Orlowski / Getty Images
BAUMHOLDER, GERMANY - JANUARY 28: Attenders of a welcome ceremony for the 170th U.S. Army Infantry Brigade upon the troops' return from Afghanistan salute at U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder on January 28, 2012 in Baumholder, Germany. The 170th Infantry Brigade, which is based at Baumholder, is one of four Army brigades stationed in Europe. U.S. military officials announced recently that two brigades will likely be withdrawn in the near future as part of a broader cost-cutting effort, and analysts have cited the 170th as a likely candidate. (Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)

The job market in this country has been gradually improving, except for some veterans: A new report finds that the situation has actually gotten a little worse for recent veterans who are trying to find work.

The unemployment rate for veterans who have served since Sept. 11 was 12.1 percent on average in 2011, according to a government report released Tuesday. That’s slightly higher than in 2010, when the average unemployment rate for the year was 11.5 percent.

That’s the opposite of how it is for nonveterans. The unemployment rate for nonveterans averaged 8.7 percent in 2011, down from 9.4 percent in 2010.

The situation is especially dismal for young vets. The unemployment rate for 18- to 24-year-old veterans who have served since Sept. 11 was 30.2 percent in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. For 25- to 34-year-old veterans from that era it was 13 percent.

Unemployment is a particular problem for those veterans who have served since Sept. 11. The unemployment rate for all veterans, including those who served in previous conflicts, averaged 8.3 percent in 2011, down just slightly from 8.7 percent a year earlier.

Experts say young veterans are at a disadvantage in part because they have been serving in the military while other young people were going to college or a trade school and making connections in their field of choice.

These more recent vets also may be finding that the skills they learned in the military don’t translate directly into a new job because they lack the certification or training that they need to do the same job in civilian life.

In general, the unemployment rate for younger workers also has been higher than for older workers over the past few years.

Private groups, government agencies and some elected officials have been working to smooth the path for young veteran jobseekers. It’s a problem that’s expected to get worse as more troops withdraw from the Gulf and the military grapples with budget cutbacks.

“Our veterans have made sacrifices on behalf of the nation, and I ask all employers to renew their commitment to veterans, because the best way to honor our veterans is to employ them. No veteran should have to fight for a job at home after fighting to protect our nation,” Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in statement Tuesday.


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