Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the “Employment Situation of Veterans – 2012,” a report that shows promising signs that post-9/11 veterans are finding and keeping jobs in larger numbers as our overall economy continues its steady recovery. But it also makes clear that we must continue to use every tool available to honor their sacrifice by helping them find opportunities to succeed in good middle-class jobs.
The report shows a significant decline in the unemployment rate for veterans overall from 8.3 percent in 2011 to 7.0 percent in 2012. Several categories also saw improvements, including Post-9/11 veterans, whose unemployment rate declined from 12.1 percent in 2011 to 9.9 percent in 2012. Recent broad-based gains in the overall economy have helped to drive down these rates as we continue adding jobs at a steady pace.
Ensuring support services address the unique challenges faced by America’s veterans, transitioning service members and military families are essential to improving upon today’s positive report. And a pathway to good jobs is a critical element of that commitment. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have demonstrated a tireless dedication to veterans through the Joining Forces Initiative, which is securing commitments from thousands of private employers who recognize that veterans bring unique skills and leadership to their workplaces, and for a lift to their bottom lines.
Here at the Labor Department, our Veterans’ Employment and Training Service is the lead government agency dedicated to veterans employment. VETS serves hundreds of thousands of veterans and transitioning service members each year. In addition, programs like My Next Move for Veterans, the Transition Assistance Programs and the Veterans Gold Card provide enhanced employment services to veterans and transitioning service members, and give targeted support in education and training that will help us reduce the unnecessarily high unemployment rates among younger veterans and female veterans.
While this morning’s report shows that we are moving in the right direction toward reducing unemployment among America’s veterans, much more needs to be done to ensure that no veteran struggles to find work after serving honorably to keep us safe and secure.
Seth Harris is the acting Secretary of Labor.