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Where do veterans stand in today’s labor market? #stats

(BUSINESS NEWS) 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.

retaining military veterans

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.

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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).

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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.

Hard transition

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.

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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.

#HireVeterans

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Written By

Roger is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds two Master's degrees, one in Education Leadership and another in Leadership Studies. In his spare time away from researching leadership retention and communication styles, he loves to watch baseball, especially the Red Sox!

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  1. Pingback: Yellen tells graduates they're entering strongest job market in a decade (can you say misleading?) - The American Genius

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