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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.

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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).

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.

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

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!

Business News

Plastic bags are making a comeback, thanks to COVID-19

(BUSINESS NEWS) Plastic bags are back, whether you like it or not – at least for now.

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Plastic bags

Single use plastic bags are rising like a phoenix from the ashes of illegality all over the country, from California to New York. Reusable bags are falling out of favor in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19. It’s a logical step: the less something is handled, generally, the safer it is going to be. And porous paper bags are thought to have a higher potential to spread the virus through contact.

It’s worth mentioning that single use plastic bags are considerably more
environmentally efficient to manufacture compared to paper, cloth, and reusable plastic bags. Per unit, they require very little material to make and are easily mass produced. It also goes without saying that they have a very short lifespan, after which they end up sitting in landfills, littering streets, or drifting through oceans.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s hard to deny that single use plastics have the potential to be as dangerous to humans as COVID-19. Coronavirus is a very immediate existential threat to us in the United States, but the scale of the global crises that stem from the irresponsible consumption of cheap disposable goods, also cannot be overstated. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn’t going anywhere. (And did you know that it’s just one of many huge garbage patches around the world?)

So… what exactly are we going to do about the comeback of plastic bags? Because to be honest, I used to work in grocery retail, and it is difficult and often unrewarding. So, I wouldn’t exactly love handling potentially contaminated tote bags all day in the midst of a pandemic if I were still a supermarket employee. You couldn’t pay me enough to feel comfortable with that – forget minimum wage!

I used to have a plastic bag stuffed full of other plastic bags sitting in my kitchen, like American nesting dolls, before disposable plastics fell from grace. (I’m sure some of y’all know exactly what I’m talking about.) This bag of bags was never a point of pride. It got really annoying because it just kept growing. There are only so many practical home uses for the standard throw-away plastic shopping bag. Very small trash can liners; holding snarls of unused cables, another thing I accumulate for no reason; extremely low-budget packing material; one could get crafty and somehow weave them into a horrible sweater, I guess.

I don’t miss my bag of bags. I don’t want to have to deal with another. Hey, Silicon Valley? Got any disruptive ideas for this one?

Even if we concede that disposable plastics are a necessary evil in the fight against COVID-19, the fact remains that they stick around long after you’re done with them. That’s true whether you throw them out or not.

I’m not trying to direct blame anywhere. Of course businesses should do their best to keep their customers and staff safe, and if that means using plastic bags, so be it. Without clear guidance from our federal government, every part of society has been fumbling and figuring out how to keep one another healthy with the tools they’ve got at hand. (…Well, almost every part.)

The changes to the state bag bans have been cautious and temporary so far, which is a small relief. But nobody really knows how much longer the pandemic will rage on and necessitate the relaxations.

I won’t pretend that I have a sure solution. All I can really ask is that we all be extra mindful of our usage of these disposable plastic products. Let’s think creatively about what we might otherwise throw away. We must not trade one apocalypse for another.

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Business News

Scammers are taking advantage of the unemployed

(BUSINESS NEWS) In a country that’s been stricken by higher-than-ever levels of unemployment, scammers have found a unique way to target this vulnerable demographic.

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With unemployment rates reaching unprecedented levels in recent months, it’s a fairly safe bet to say that there’s something that many of us currently have in common: we need a job. While these levels are slowly starting to decline, already down to 11.1 percent in June from an all-time high of 14.7 percent in April, the need for steady gainful employment is still great for many Americans. That’s what makes the newest scam making its rounds particularly vile.

There’s a common misconception that people who get scammed largely deserved their misfortune. Whether it’s presumed that they got greedy, they fell for something that was too good to be true, or they were looking for an easy way out, it’s both unfair and unkind to make these snap judgements of victims of scammers. When it comes to scammers, there’s only one party to blame for these wrongful actions — the scammers themselves.

And with literally millions of people looking for a job right now, these scammers have found a new round of susceptible people to target. It’s a fairly well documented fact that scammers have a knack for knowing who will be easy prey, and this latest scam is no different. According to a report from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), scammers have ramped up their efforts to separate desperate job seekers from what’s left of their meager funds.

This scam is nothing new, but it has surged in popularity with the sheer number of people looking for jobs in today’s economy. Dubbed the “employment scam,” it can take on many forms, but the end result remains the same. At the end of the day, if a person is bilked out of their money, then the scammer has won.

What does this scam look like, and how can you safeguard yourself from falling prey to it? Please note that anyone — from all walks of life, no matter your age, your sex, your race, or any other factor — can become a victim of a scam. The only way to protect yourself is to be aware of the scam and recognize the signs of it. If a potential employer asks any of the following of you, then there’s a good chance they’re a scammer:

  • You are required to pay the so-called employer for your own training up front.
  • You are expected to give up your banking/personal info for a credit check.
  • You are overpaid by a fraudulent check and told to wire back the difference.
  • You are told that you need to pay for expensive equipment to work from home.

Please note that these scammers can spoof legitimate companies. They may try to pass themselves off as real-deal businesses; they’ve even tried to emulate the BBB itself. And when you refuse to follow through with their demands, they will double down and might even become hostile and aggressive, resorting to threats and cajoling. It’s important to not cave in; once they start bullying you, they know the gig is up.

The BBB also notes that coronavirus has created a “perfect storm” for scammers, but there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. They advise that you avoid social isolation, as that can make you more vulnerable to scammers. When in doubt, seek out a friend’s feedback. Sometimes a reality check can make all the difference in whether or not you become a mark. Do a little bit of digging online before you accept an “offer” or share personal information. And finally, be prudent. No matter how many warnings the BBB puts out each year about scams, the only person who can really protect you from getting scammed is just one person…yourself.

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Business News

American Express’ cash back program helps members support small businesses

(BUSINESS NEWS) Between now and September 20th, AMEX is providing $50 in credits to their cardholders to support local businesses.

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cashback program

It’s no secret that coronavirus has been nothing short of devastating for small businesses. Even with the Small Business Administration (SBA) offering financial relief in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), many small businesses are still struggling to keep their doors open. So far, the numbers have been astronomical — to the tune of some 100,000 small businesses closing down permanently, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research — and they’re expected to continue to rise as the pandemic drags on.

With that in mind, American Express has come forward with their own disaster relief program of sorts. Between now and the 20th of September, the credit card company will be offering a cash back rewards incentive for their cardholders. The program is fairly simple and straightforward: for every $10 (or more) that you spend at a small business, Amex will give you a $5 statement credit on your account. This can be repeated up to ten times, for a total of $50 in rewards. Not bad, huh? But the question remains: what’s a mere $50 in the grand scheme of things, and will it actually help out small businesses in the long run?

Well, first and foremost, $50 is no small chunk of change. For most of us, it’s a fairly decent perk, especially since it requires us to do what we would have done anyway (shop at local businesses). Whether you feel like getting takeout from your local mom-and-pop restaurant, you’re going to pick up a few groceries for dinner tonight at your corner market, or you need to take Fido in for a checkup at your neighborhood veterinary clinic, these activities all count toward the reward program. You’re literally getting paid for shopping locally. Easy peasy.

And secondly, historic data does prove that these incentives do work. Amex rolled out their first small business reward program back in 2010, called Small Business Saturday®, as a response to the mass consumerism of Black Friday. In 2015, the SBA decided to get in on the fun and joined forces with Amex, sponsoring the program. Even better, a study from 2019 revealed that a whopping $19.6 billion was funneled back into local economies thanks to the initiative. So while “just” $50 may not seem like much, it adds up to impressive numbers when seen from a more macroscopic perspective.

This isn’t the only program that has Amex’s name standing behind it, either. The company is also the driving force behind the Stand for Small program, which unifies larger businesses who are offering their own helping hand to smaller businesses. Whether you’re looking for assistance in managing your expenses, or you’re in need of help in growing your online presence, the Stand for Small program was designed to help make this possible. Large names like Amazon and eBay are included in the ranks that have rallied behind Stand for Small, lending clout to this program.

So what’s a little extra $50? Is it worth it to you? Sure, the intentions of some of these companies may be somewhat less than magnanimous — there’s no arguing that there’s something in it for them, as well — it doesn’t change the fact that in an economy that’s been crippled by COVID-19, they’re actually doing something instead of just sitting there idly and waiting for someone else to take action.

That, at least, has to be worth something. And if you’re wanting to get your hands on a share of the cool fifty bucks courtesy of Amex, they’d like to remind you that you do need to enroll in the rewards program no later than July 26. If you don’t, you may miss out on your opportunity to help keep small businesses afloat (while also enjoying an extra $5 in your pocket here or there), courtesy of American Express.

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