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For post-9/11 veterans, employment picture is bleak, survey finds

March 20, 2012|By David Zucchino
  • Veterans line up at ServiceNation "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair in Culver City on July 10, 2011.
Veterans line up at ServiceNation "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair… (Francine Orr / Los Angeles…)

The unemployment rate for veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq era remains stubbornly higher than for the general population -- and far higher for veterans 24 and younger.

So-called "post-9/11" veterans had an unemployment rate of 12.1% in 2011, according to the latest survey, released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That compares with the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 8.3%.

In 2010, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was 11.5%.

For male veterans younger than 24, the jobless rate is 29.1%, considerably higher than the 17.6% rate for non-veteran males in the same age group. There was little difference in the unemployment rate for all post-9/11 male veterans (12%) versus women in the same group (12.4%).

For all veterans, the unemployment rate in 2011 was 8.3%, the same as the overall national figure, and down slightly from 8.7% in 2010.

Since the recession began four years ago, veterans returning from Afghanistan or Iraq have struggled to find civilian jobs. Despite their experience and training, veterans are sometimes considered less desirable than younger civilian applicants with more specific skills, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Veterans are also coping with high rates of disability caused by combat service, the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey found. The survey, based on a monthly sampling of 60,000 households, found that 26% of veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq era have a service-connected disability, nearly double the 14% rate for all veterans.

For those post-9/11 male veterans who have found employment, about a third are working in management or professional jobs, the survey found. About half of employed post-9/11 female veterans found jobs in those fields.

One source of jobs seems to be the federal government. More than 14% of employed post-9/11 veterans have found federal government positions, compared with just 2% for employed non-veterans.

Of the 21 million veterans in the U.S., about 2.4 million have served in the post-9/11 era.

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david.zucchino@latimes.com

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