Black Veterans Suffer High Unemployment

New numbers show that Black service men and women have a hard time finding work after returning to civilian life.

Posted: 11/07/2011 12:45 PM EST
Filed Under Military, Economy

Military service is often thought of as a way to secure lifelong job opportunities, whether currently serving or as a veteran. However, new unemployment numbers from the Labor Department are challenging that notion and show that employment numbers among Black veterans are dismally low.

According to the report released Thursday, Black veterans, who make up only 11.9 percent of the entire veteran labor force, accounted for 17.5 percent of overall veteran unemployment in 2010. The data also showed that unemployment among Black veterans has steadily increased from 2007 to 2010, rising seven points and landing at 12.7 percent.

Comparatively, Black veterans have the highest overall rate of unemployment, as white veterans showed an unemployment rate of only 8.1 percent, followed by 9.2 percent for Hispanic veterans and 4.4 percent for Asian veterans.
The numbers are reflective of a nationwide trend concerning Black unemployment. New numbers released Friday showed that despite modest gains, the overall unemployment rate for Blacks (15.1 percent) still leads the national average of 9 percent.  

Veterans make up 7.7 percent of the U.S. labor force and, in response to the statistics, the Labor Department announced that it plans to revamp its veterans' employment programming to reflect changes in the marketplace and to stem the problem of veteran unemployment.

"We know from experience that military skills are invaluable in the civilian workforce, but we need to do better at connecting these young men and women to employers," said Labor Department Secretary Hilda L. Solis. "…We have a duty to serve our military families as well as they have served us, and that's especially true of the recent announcement that our combat troops are coming home from Iraq.”

President Obama has also addressed the issue of veteran unemployment in his proposed American Jobs Act. As a part of the bill, the proposed Returning Heroes Tax Credit would provide up to $5,600 for businesses that hire veterans who have been unemployed for six months or longer. The plan also includes the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit, which promises to increase the tax credit for a business that hires a veteran with a service-connected disability up to $9,600.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)