HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut officials on Thursday urged employers to take advantage of new state and federal financial incentives and hire returning veterans, many of whom are having difficulty finding work.
While figures vary depending on demographic groups and regions, unemployment rates for veterans are higher than the regular unemployment rates, both nationally and in Connecticut. Out of 11,000 post-9/11 veterans in Connecticut, Sen. Richard Blumenthal estimated that 1,700 are unemployed.
The Congressional Joint Economic Committee, citing 2010 figures, said the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans in Connecticut was 15.5 percent, compared with 11.5 percent nationally. For all veterans, the unemployment figure in Connecticut was 9.2 percent, compared with 8.7 percent nationally.
“It’s shameful, unacceptable, that young men and women who have served our country should come back to a jobless society for them,” Blumenthal said during a news conference Thursday at the state armory in Hartford.
Blumenthal and state officials who handle veterans’ matters said some employers may be concerned about veterans having the appropriate skills, suffering from possible combat trauma, or facing possible redeployment. Linda Schwartz, the state veterans affairs commissioner, said her agency has received reports of some employers discriminating against Connecticut National Guard members who apply for jobs but need time off for military training and other demands. The law bans such practices.
She said the state is beginning a new program that asks employers to at least guarantee an interview with any veteran who applies for a job at their company.
“I do believe they deserve a face-to-face interview,” Schwartz said. “Some of the resumes don’t say half as much as looking at the veteran and seeing that you have someone who has known how to show up for work, knows what it means to have responsibility and is that motivated to do a good job.”
Earlier this fall, the General Assembly passed a jobs bill that included a $900-a-month tax credit for employers for each veteran hired. There are also various federal benefits and incentives available to employers who hire veterans. Additionally, the state offers apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs for veterans. Staff at the Connecticut Department of Labor’s 14 offices across the state can help companies with the paperwork involved in obtaining the incentives and help screen veterans for jobs.
Blumenthal acknowledged that the recent troop withdrawals from Iraq are expected to compound the problem of high employment among veterans.
“A lot of young men and women are going to be coming home from the Iraq war. News clips should show everyone in this country that tens of thousands young and men and women will be coming home from war,” Blumenthal said. “They’re the ones who need and deserve opportunities in the workplace. And right now, their unemployment rates are much higher than the national averages.”