A record year for Legion hiring fairs

The American Legion’s longstanding campaign to gain full employment for the nation’s job-seeking veterans accelerated rapidly this past year. According to a report just released by its Economic Division in Washington, D.C., the Legion will have hosted, sponsored or participated in more than 200 veterans hiring fairs by the end of the 2012 calendar year – a record number. In addition, approximately 7,000 of those attending these hiring fairs ended up getting hired.

Data gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, RecruitMilitary and Monster/Military.com show an overall unemployment rate among veterans of 6.6 percent, markedly below the national average. However, joblessness among young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is dramatically higher: 9.5 percent among male veterans and 12.9 among females – who, according to the BLS, now comprise 15 percent of homecoming U.S. troops).

"While these figures reflect a disturbing rate of unemployment among young veterans, the news is not all bad," American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz said. "This report also exhibits the enthusiastic and proactive role The American Legion is playing to correct the injustice of joblessness among our young heroes. The Legion’s sponsorship and hosting of job fairs at the national, department and post levels is having tangible results. We are helping match America’s best workers with America’s smartest employers."

For years, The American Legion has been sponsoring and staging hiring events, small business workshops and educational sessions for job-seeking veterans, but this year’s activities have been unprecedented in number and scope. Alliances with RecruitMilitary, which bills itself as "the top military-to-civilian recruiting firm in the United States," Monster/Military.com, a military and veteran job board partnership, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s "Hiring Our Heroes" program has resulted in the rapid acceleration of the Legion’s veteran employment campaign. Koutz said the Legion will continue to respond to the employment needs of the veteran community in the coming year. "I pledge that our efforts will be redoubled in 2013 and that our message will be proclaimed even more loudly," he said. "As we have said so many times before and will say again and again, an employer can do no better than to hire a veteran."

The Legion report reveals some interesting data. For instance, more than 55 percent of job-seeking veterans who attended the Legion-related job fairs are under the age of 24. Ninety-two percent of the career fair attendees were enlisted servicemembers, of whom 17 percent had earned a college degree. The majority of the job seekers wished to pursue public service careers (mostly in police or fire departments) or assume management positions. More than three-quarters of the veterans were willing to relocate to gain employment, though rural veterans were much less likely to move than city dwellers. However – and predictably -- the greatest number of job opportunities were found in the large cities, with Washington, D.C., New York, Baltimore, Denver and Boston topping the list of best places to seek employment.