More good employment news for veterans

WASHINGTON — The unemployment rate for recent veterans dropped to 7.6 percent in February, the lowest it has been since September 2008 and a possible sign of success for high-profile efforts to find veterans jobs.

Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that more veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan era than ever before are working in the civilian sector, up nearly 220,000 since the end of 2011. Today, nearly 1.9 million of those veterans hold private sector jobs, a number expected to rise as more troops leave the military in coming years.

For all veterans, the unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent in February, the lowest that mark has been since December 2008. Almost all of the increase in veteran employment came from the new jobs for post-9/11 veterans.

Both figures put veterans in a better employment situation than the rest of the country. The national unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent for February, and that the number of new private sector jobs grew by 223,000 from the month before.

Lawmakers have made post-military employment a focus in recent months, adopting legislation to train veterans in new skills and to ease their transition into the civilian workforce.

The White House has also unveiled a slew of initiatives aimed at putting younger veterans to work, including job search tools and career counseling efforts. Last month, President Barack Obama also announced plans for a veterans job corps initiative to employ thousands of former servicemembers as police officers, firefighters and park rangers.

The good employment news comes as the Defense Department prepares to shed more than 100,000 troops over the next few years as part of cost-saving plans tied to the end of the war in Iraq and the anticipated drawdown of forces from Afghanistan.

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