By Paul Trause
If you’re a frequent observer of labor-market data, you know it’s not unusual to get mixed messages.
Take the unemployment rate for military veterans, for example. Is it higher or lower than the national average?
However you answered, you’re right. It’s all in how you measure it.
On one hand, the unemployment rate among all veterans is significantly lower than the U.S. average, 6.3 percent to 7.9 percent. But if you look solely at military members discharged since 9/11, the unemployment rate is significantly higher, at 10 percent.
The good news in these numbers is that, given time, it appears veterans are more likely to find and keep a civilian job.
But in the short-term, we must brace for the military drawdown as masses of service members are discharged, many with injuries and disabilities. These men and women will be trading one conflict for another: from the battle field to the battle for a civilian job.
Often, these individuals enlisted soon after high school. All their training and work experience — even their language — is military.
So, what should a newly discharged veteran do? The best advice is to take full advantage of the considerable benefits and resources that are available for veterans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is a good place to start. But many important and valuable services also are provided by the Employment Security Department and the statewide WorkSource system.
These include unemployment benefits to sustain them temporarily, coupled with with job training, career counseling and employment assistance to set them on a successful career path.
To help promote opportunities for veterans, Congress and the state Legislature have created some powerful incentives for employers. There are substantial tax credits for hiring veterans, along with legal protection for employers who want to give veterans a preference in their hiring processes.
In addition, local WorkSource offices often organize specialized job fairs for employers who are interested in hiring veterans.
At Employment Security, we deeply appreciate employers that make an extra effort to welcome veterans into their workforce. We even created an award to recognize employers that are setting a good example.
In recent months, we’ve been pleased to present Hire-A-Vet Awards to two Washington businesses, Haskins Steel in Spokane, and Continuant Inc. in Fife. These companies value the skills and work ethic that former service members bring to the workplace.
If you’re a veteran looking for a job, if you know a veteran looking for work, or if you’re an employer who wants to find veterans to hire, contact your local WorkSource office.
Veterans Day was created to honor our nation’s veterans. What better way to show our appreciation than by welcoming them into the civilian workforce – and make every day Veterans Day.
Paul Trause is the state’s Employment Security Commissioner.
See the Snohomish County WorkSource website for more information. (worksourceonline.com/)