Veteran unemployment up slightly in 2011

Unemployment among Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans stood at 12.1 percent in 2011, a slight increase over the previous year, according to a report issued Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By comparison, the unemployment rate for non-veterans decreased from 9.4 percent to 8.7 percent over the same period.

The jobless rate for all veterans was 8.3 percent in 2011, down slightly from 2010, according to the BLS annual report.

The report found that unemployment continues to be particularly high among young male veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan in the 18- to 24-year-old age group. The figure stood at 29.1 percent in 2011, compared with 17.6 for their non-veteran counterparts.

“This annual report underscores the importance and the urgency of President Obama’s initiatives to increase employment among veterans,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a statement.

Recent monthly reports from the BLS have shown a significant drop in unemployment among Iraq- and Afghanistan-era veterans during the first two months of 2012, down to 9.1 percent in January and 7.6 percent in February.

The monthly figures are considered snapshots and not as accurate a measure as the annual reports.

Some veterans advocacy groups have called the 2012 figures misleading and have warned against complacency.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones, who is co-chairman of the Call of Duty Endowment, a nonprofit focused on veterans employment, called for “a more holistic and more cohesive” approach to the problem, including more public and private partnerships.

“Without some sort of action, the rates will continue to grow,” Jones, the former U.S. national security adviser in the Obama administration, said in an interview Tuesday.

The BLS annual report also said that 26 percent of veterans in this post-Sept. 11, 2001, era report having a service-connected disability, compared with 14 percent of all veterans.

 
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