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Jobless rates for vets still inching upward

Aug. 7, 2010 - 10:58AM   |   Last Updated: Aug. 7, 2010 - 10:58AM  |  
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The few jobs being created in a stagnant economy do not seem to be going to veterans, as the unemployment rate for former service members rose in July to 8.4 percent overall and to 11.8 percent for Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans.

That is an increase over June, when the overall unemployment rate was 8 percent for all veterans and 11.5 percent for Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans, and a sign that an economy that grew only about 17,000 jobs in July while losing 133,000 is not a good place for veterans looking for work.

The national unemployment rate for July, however, remained steady, at 9.5 percent. Most of the job losses were the result of elimination of temporary government jobs.

The situation for veterans remains worse than it was one year ago, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reports that in July 2009 the unemployment rate for all veterans was 7.9 percent and that the rate for people who served since September 2001 was 9.8 percent.

The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, concerned about problems for new veterans seeking jobs, passed the Veteran Employment Assistance Act on Thursday, a measure that attempts to improve transition programs for separating service members, tries to find ways to help veterans obtain credentials or licenses to they can get private sector jobs using military-learned skills and also expands small business programs.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chief sponsor of the bill, said veterans need more help.

"Veterans going from the battlefield to the working world face a unique set of challenges, and we owe them our strong support," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chief sponsor of the bill, said in a statement after the committee passed it by voice vote. "The Veterans' Employment Assistance Act would address these challenges comprehensively by creating new employment programs, expanding existing ones, and assessing how to improve the ones we have now."

Among the provisions the bill, S 3234, are demonstration projects aimed at moving people directly from military service into civilian jobs in such fields as law enforcement, nursing, physician assistants, public health and information technology. The bill also authorizes grants for states to establish veterans conservation corps programs or programs for veterans to help other veterans.

Murray's bill was one of seven veterans measures approved by the committee that might be taken up by the full Senate this fall.

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