Veteran Unemployment Rate Hits New Lows
Good news! The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a new report on the employment status of veterans. In a report surveying 60,000 American households, the BLS concluded the unemployment rate of veterans has maintained its 18-year-low of 3.5%, with the peak unemployment rate being 9.9% in 2011. The rate of jobless veterans from September 2001 until now, referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans, has dropped from 4.5% in 2017 to 3.5% in 2018, a 10-year low.
This is in no small part due to the hard work of LVERs and DVOP specialists who work day in and day out to help veterans prepare for and find meaningful work. Thank you for your contributions toward improving the quality of life for those who serve our nation.
Read the full report here: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/vet.toc.htm
DOL Announces $48.1 million in Grants for Homeless Veteran Reintegration
The Department of Labor (DOL) awarded 149 Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP) grants to various community services and agencies totaling over $48.1. Over 20,000 veterans experiencing homelessness or who are highly at risk of homelessness will receive employment and training assistance. Since the inception of HVRP in 1987, the program has steadily increased the numbers served with grant funds and expanded the geographical coverage of these grants. HVRP is the only federal grant program focused exclusively on competitive employment for homeless veterans.
The 12-month grants range from $100,000 to $500,000. California has the most recipients with 30 grants awarded. Texas has the second highest recipients with eight grants awarded.
DOL has a full press release outlining the grants and a list of grant recipients. Read it here: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/vets/vets20180710.
Growing Opportunities: How Farming and the USDA Have Helped Veterans in the Job Market
Three-point-two-percent of United States veterans are unemployed according to the Department of Labor (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/vets/latest-numbers). While this may seem like a small percentage with a steady decline over the past few years, it still means that hundreds of thousands of veterans are without a job. According to pewresearch.org, (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/11/10/the-changing-face-of-americas-veteran-population/) there are currently 20.8 million veterans in the United States. Using the Department of Labor’s statistic, we can calculate that around 665,600 veterans are unemployed. However, agencies, like the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), are providing beneficial tools and programs for former service members, so that unemployment rate can continue its steady decline. The USDA works with organizations like the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to generate ample employment opportunities.
The USDA grants large loans to veterans to help them grow their respective businesses. Steven Clipp, a Navy veteran who writes for VAntage Point, states in his VA blog post, Veterans Have Opportunity to Grow with USDA and Farming Resources, “In 2018, USDA’s Farm Service Agency provided $64.5 million in direct and guaranteed farm operating loans to Veterans.“ Based on the millions of dollars issued to this particular population, the USDA is committed to jumpstarting agricultural sector careers. Clipp reinforces this idea by writing, “USDA is committed to assisting Veterans across the country to keep America’s food supply safe and secure.” The USDA seeks to leverage the qualities and characteristics inherent in service members and the skills gained during their service, by identifying, attracting, and ensuring veterans are successful.
Veterans and farmers share many common characteristics and values such as: dedication, fortitude, and resilience. The similarities in these career fields offer an easier transition for veterans into a new employment opportunity, such as agriculture.
With over 40 programs and various financial tools such as: cost-share assistance, funding preferences for engaging in conservation efforts, as well as loan and grant assistance programs, the USDA is committed to extending a financial helping hand to former military personnel in their pursuit of a post-service career. Steven Clipp writes, “Veterans looking to return home or start a new career on a farm or in a rural community have the tools and opportunities needed for success.” Clipp understands that the USDA’s implementation of these programs is a way to not only incentivize veterans to join the agriculture business but to take care of those who have served.
Bi-lateral success is the selling point. The USDA’s initiative to engage and support former military personnel in agri-business via loans and other programs is based on a win-win model. The more success the veterans have in farming, the more revenue and recognition will be generated for the agriculture industry. The USDA also perceives a major opportunity with restoring communities and the engagement of the veteran demographic. Clipp quotes USDA Military Veteran Agricultural Liaison Bill Ashton, in his article saying;
“Nearly one quarter of veterans, approximately 5 million, live in rural areas. They (veterans) can be a positive force for our communities. USDA is committed to making our programs accessible to help veterans start or grow a career and maximize the potential talent of this population.”
Contrary to common perception, the USDA doesn’t just recognize this talent in rural areas, but they also understand there are plenty of qualified veterans in urban areas. Veterans who live in a metropolitan area can access cutting edge technology that can make their transition into agriculture smoother. For example, new urban-based technologies such as rooftop farming and aquaculture farms (indoor hydroponic farms) are potential resources that the USDA can provide to veterans. These resources, along with several others, are detailed within USDA’s Urban toolkit.
This toolkit provides information regarding cost estimation, business planning, and risk management, as well as the technology needed to successfully farm in the city. This resource is just another example of the USDA’s commitment toward ensuring veterans are in the best possible position to achieve success no matter where they live.
Farming and agriculture are about giving back to the community, a value understood by former military members. According to Croplife.com, agriculture is listed as a 2.4 trillion-dollar industry. Former service members should consider agriculture as a new career path through which they can leverage existing skills to seek out opportunities and grow their futures.
To learn more about the USDA’s veteran programs, visit https://www.usda.gov/our-agency/intiatives/veterans.
To learn more about the opportunity of farming in the city and the Urban toolkit, visit:https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/urban-agriculture-toolkit.pdf
To access Steven Clipp’s VA blog post, visit:https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/61200/usda-vets-farming-agriculture/