Indeed dug into the data
When thinking about critical skills and attributes that you’re looking for in potential new hires, many employers forget to think about the host of opportunities that come by hiring a veteran of the U.S. armed forces. As 2016 comes to a close, with the recent observance of Veteran’s Day, how veterans have fared in the labor market provides an interesting picture of how their often untapped skills can be of benefit.
Labor market stats
Composing 7.6 percent of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau, veterans have a lower unemployment rate overall than their non-veteran peers. October unemployment rates have been lower for veterans since 2009. The recession, which caused spikes in unemployment rates for all segments of the population, caused an unemployment hike to 9.9 percent in January 2011 for veterans, which has since decreased to 4.9 percent. However, segments of the veteran population have seen variations in levels of employment rates for those seeking to join the workforce.
With overall veteran unemployment at 9.9 percent in January 2011, unemployment rates for Gulf War II veterans (those serving since September 2001) stood at 15.2 percent.
While younger workers can typically face higher levels of unemployment than their older, more skilled competitors, this outstripped the non-veteran rate, which was at 9.3 percent for this segment of the population. This has since improved. The unemployment rate for this segment of the veteran workforce is markedly lower than their non-veteran peers.
Although veterans are less likely than their non-veteran peers to have a bachelor’s degree, they outstrip them in average earnings. Veterans earn a higher median income by over $11,000 annually ($38,334 for veterans, as opposed to $27,248 for non-veterans).
Where vets have landed
Veterans typically seek employment in fields that match their military operational specialty (MOS), or which utilize the skills they were taught and used in their time in the service. Many veterans continue their service for the federal government in other capacities. Over 27 percent of the federal workforce in 2011 was composed of former service members.
As the employment needs of the civilian job market and the military do differ, several of these types of fields are predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their employment forecast to shrink over the next several years.
High-growth labor markets, such as healthcare, have a unique opportunity to transition their supports to hire veterans. For example, in 2011, President Obama called upon Community Health Centers to make an investment of hiring 8,000 veterans over the next three years. He additionally tasked the Health Resources and Services Administration to identify career paths for veterans and expand opportunities for veterans to become physician assistants.
As was the case with overall unemployment rates, job selection varies by the era of service and the sex of the veteran. Older veterans with dates of service from 1976-2000 were more likely to be employed in roles that were primarily computer-based or mathematical in orientation than their non-veteran peers. More recent veterans tend to find roles that more closely matched their military experiences. For veteran women, many selected healthcare roles, and exceed the rates of employment of their non-veteran peers in computer-based and mathematical roles.
Despite having lower unemployment rates, veterans still find many obstacles in their employment paths. The Center for Talent Innovation’s survey in Indeed asked whether employees felt supported by their supervisor. Nearly 20 percent of civilian men and 15 percent of civilian women in white-collar jobs felt their supervisor was an advocate and champion for their cause. Only 2 percent of veterans in similar roles felt the same.
Beyond feeling supported by their supervisors, an astounding majority of veterans identified that their skill sets weren’t being fully utilized. 67 percent said they had three or more skills that their current employer was not asking them to use in their roles.
Resources for employers
Speaking to Business Insider, Jon Davis, a retired Marine sergeant and current hiring manager identified reasons employers should hire military veterans. “When given a proper framework and adequate training veterans can amaze you at how hard they can work and what they can get done,” said Davis. “Few cultures have been engineered like the one military veterans have been a part of and even fewer … focuses entirely on mission achievement, cooperation, and personal development. The fact is that there is no culture in the world that shapes people in the way the military does,” Davis notes.
When seeking to hire veterans, the U.S. government provides resources to the veteran for their transition. They provide financial assistance for higher education, along with enhanced re-employment services for post-9/11 veterans through the Veteran Gold Card, allowing them six months of personalized case management and additional supports at their community work center. The Department of Defense’s Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force was created to identify opportunities for veterans to earn civilian occupational credentials and licenses without the need for additional training.
Additionally, through Joining Forces, an initiative that serves the U.S. veteran through education, wellness, and employment services, multiple employers have stated their goal of hiring more than 100,000 veterans and their spouses over the next several years.
For the employer, the Returning Heroes Tax Credit, enacted in 2011, provides businesses that hire unemployed veterans with a credit of up to $5,600 per veteran. The Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers businesses that hire veterans with service-connected disabilities a credit of up to $9,600 per veteran.
The most important thing employers can remember when identifying opportunities for veterans to serve in civilian capacities is that these individuals have been placed into high levels of responsibility, many from a young age, and are typically mission-oriented. While their transition may require support, as is necessary for onboarding any new employee, the outcomes may pay more immediate benefits.
Hobby Lobby increases minimum wage, but how much is just to save face?
(BUSINESS NEWS) Are their efforts to raise their minimum wage to $17/hour sincere, or more about saving face after bungling pandemic concerns?
The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby announced this week that they will be raising their minimum full-time wage to $17/hour starting October 1st. This decision makes them the latest big retailer to raise wages during the pandemic (Target raised their minimum wage to $15/hour about three months ago, and Walmart and Amazon have temporarily raised wages). The current minimum wage for Hobby Lobby employees is $15/hour, which was implemented in 2014.
While a $17 minimum wage is a big statement for the company (even a $15 minimum wage cannot be agreed upon on the federal level) – and it is no doubt a coveted wage for the majority of the working class – it’s difficult to not see this move as an attempt to regain public support of the company.
When the pandemic first began, Hobby Lobby – with more than 900 stores and 43,000 employees nationwide – refused to close their stores despite being deemed a nonessential business (subsequently, a Dallas judge accused the company of endangering public health).
In April, Hobby Lobby furloughed almost all store employees and the majority of corporate and distribution employees without notice. They also ended emergency leave pay and suspended the use of company-provided paid time off benefits for employees during the furloughs – a decision that was widely criticized by the public, although the company claims the reason for this was so that employees would be able to take full advantage of government handouts during their furlough.
However, the furloughs are not Hobby Lobby’s first moment under fire. The Oklahoma-based Christian company won a 2014 Supreme Court case – the same year they initially raised their minimum wage – that granted them the right to deny their female employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.
Also, Hobby Lobby settled a federal complaint in 2017 that accused them of purchasing upwards of 5,000 looted ancient Iraqi artifacts, smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel – which is simultaneously strange, exploitative, and highly controversial.
Why does this all matter? While raising their minimum wage to $17 should be regarded as a step in the right direction regarding the overall treatment of employees (and, hopefully, $17 becomes the new standard), Hobby Lobby is not without reason to seek favorable public opinion, especially during a pandemic. Yes, we should be quick to condone the action of increasing minimum wage, but perhaps be a little skeptical when deeming a company “good” or “bad”.
RIP office culture: How work from home is destroying the economy
(BUSINESS NEWS) It’s not just your empty office left behind: Work from home is drastically changing cities’ economies in more ways than you think.
It’s been almost six months since the U.S. went into lockdown due to COVID-19 and the CDC’s subsequent safety guidelines were issued – it’s safe to say that it is not business as usual. Everyone from restaurant waitstaff to start-up executives have been affected by the shift to work-from-home. Even as restrictions slowly begin to lift, it seems as though the office workspace – regarded as the vital venue for the U.S. economy – will never truly be the same.
Though economists have been focusing largely on small businesses and start-ups, we are only just beginning to understand the impact that not going back into the white-collar office will have on the economy.
The industries that support white-collar office culture in major cities have become increasingly emaciated. The coffee shops, food trucks, and food delivery companies that catered to the white-collar workforce before, during, and after their workday, are no longer in high demand (Starbucks reported a loss of $2 billion this year, which they attribute to Zoomification). Airlines have also been affected as business travel typically accounts for 60%-70% of all air travel.
Also included are high-end hotels, which accommodate the traveling business class. Pharmacies, florists, and gyms located in business districts have become ghost towns. Office supplies companies, such as Xerox, have suffered. Workwear brands such as J. Crew and Brooks Brothers have filed for bankruptcy, as there is no longer a need to dress for the office.
In Manhattan – arguably the country’s most notorious white-collar business mecca – at least 1,200 restaurants have been permanently lost. It is also is predicted that the one-third of all small businesses will close.
Additionally, the borough is facing twice as many apartment vacancies as this time last year, due to the flight of workers no longer tied to midtown offices. Workers have realized their freedom to seek more affordable and spacious residence outside the city. As companies decentralize from cities and rent prices drop, it isn’t all bad news. There is promise that particular urban white-collar neighborhoods will start to become accessible to the working class once again.
Some companies, like Pinterest and REI, are reporting that their shift to work from home is in fact permanent. The long-term effects of deserted office buildings are yet to make themselves evident. What we do know is that the decline of the white-collar office will force us to reimagine the great American cities – with so much lost due to the coronavirus, what can now be gained?
2020 Black Friday shopping may break the mold
(BUSINESS NEWS) Home Depot states their new plan for deals and discounts over two months, in place of a 1-day Black Friday event.
Humans change and adapt – that’s just in our nature. Retail stores have struggled to maintain their sales goals for years as more and more people move to ordering online. Online prices still seem to be within customer expectations and often come with free shipping. Additionally, people that may have preferred to shop in an actual brick-and-mortar store have changed their shopping habits dramatically in 2020; it’s hard to social distance and be safe in crowded stores or in small aisles. Black Friday may be next to change.
Amazon and other big box store’s online ordering platforms have simplified getting what you need delivered right to your front door. According to Statista, “Amazon was responsible for 45% of US e-commerce spending in 2019 – a figure which is expected to rise to 47% in 2020.”
Retailers count on the holiday season, specifically Black Friday deals (the day after Thanksgiving), to bring in up to 20% of their annual revenue. It’s hard to just remove that option completely. But considering the times of social distancing, wearing masks in public, and especially avoiding large crowds, the tradition of Black Friday will need to look different this year.
It will also be interesting to see what supply chain disruptions from early 2020 will have the most effect this shopping season. We saw predictions in March that said the United States would see the biggest disruptions in about six months. Black Friday falls right on that timeline.
Home Depot has announced their plans to go ahead and give the deals over a two month span, starting in early November through December (both online and in stores with the possibility of adding some special deals around the actual Black Friday date) to help encourage a more steady stream of shoppers versus so many packing in on the same day.
The home improvement chain has actually seen a great sales year. This is likely due to people working from home and being interested in doing more home projects (and possibly having a bit more time to do them as well). As of May 2020, “The Home Depot®, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, today reported sales of $28.3 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2020, a 7.1 percent increase from the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Comparable sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 were positive 6.4 percent, and comparable sales in the U.S. were positive 7.5 percent.”
Home Depot, along with many other retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have confirmed that they will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, which may not be new for all of them but has always signaled the kickoff of the holiday shopping season.
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