Report: Jobs picture for veterans improved in 2012

U.S. Army Sgt. German Gomez stands guard during a training session for Afghan National Police at their combat outpost in the Jalrez Valley in Afghanistan's Wardak Province, Sept. 19, 2009.
AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

WASHINGTON The jobs picture for the nation's veterans improved significantly last year, particularly for those who have served since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

The annual report from the Bureau of Labor Statics shows that the unemployment rate for the latest generation of veterans fell from 12.1 in 2011 to 9.9 percent last year. About a third of the people who make up that category of veterans served in Iraq or Afghanistan, or both.

The Labor Department report reinforces that, as a whole, veterans actually have an easier time finding work than nonveterans. The unemployment rate stood at 7 percent last year for all veterans, compared to 7.9 percent for nonveterans, according to the report.

However, the nation's youngest veterans are the exception to that longstanding trend. They continue to have a harder time finding work than their nonveteran peers, and nearly 1 in 5 was unemployed.

The federal government and private sector are participating in several initiatives placing greater emphasis on hiring veterans. Congress approved tax credits for companies that hire veterans and also required the military to provide transition training to those leaving the service. Many companies announced efforts to hire more vets in the past two years.

The report also points to possible difficulties for veterans if federal, state and local governments undertake furloughs, or possibly job cuts, to deal with budget trims. One third of veterans with a service-connected disability work in the public sector, as do nearly a quarter of the Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans.

By comparison, only about 14 percent of nonveterans work in the public sector.

The report also indicated that while the unemployment picture brightened for male veterans, there was little change among female veterans.

The unemployment rate for female veterans stood at 8.3 percent compared to 7.7 percent among their nonveteran counterparts, the report stated.