Obama Administration proposes new jobs initiative for veterans, including tax credits for employers.

Overshadowed by the recent heated negotiations over America’s debt-ceiling and deficit reduction measures, over the past weeks a litany of reports announcing critical economic indicators have painted a grim picture of our fragile economic recovery. The Commerce Department reported that GDP growth in the second quarter of 2011 was only 1.3 percent, while first quarter growth was revised down to 0.4 percent. At the same time, consumer spending—which fuels over half of our economic growth—fell in June for the first time in two years. The July jobs report, released Friday, showed lackluster growth in the jobs market, reporting that only 117,000 jobs were created last month. This is a fraction of the number needed on a monthly basis to significantly reduce unemployment to pre-recession levels.

Amidst these alarming indicators, the Obama administration is swiftly pivoting to the key issue of job creation. At the Washington Navy Yard on Friday, President Obama announced a series of measures to spur job creation for America’s veterans—a segment of the population that faces unique challenges re-integrating into civilian life and the workforce. There are approximately one million unemployed veterans today, with the jobless rate for post 9/11 veterans at 13.3 percent, higher than the national average. Matt Flavin, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and current Director of the White House Veterans, Military Families and Wounded Warrior Task Force said in a blog post last week,

“We have an obligation to make sure our veterans are able to navigate this difficult labor market and success in the civilian workforce.”

That is why President Obama announced his targeted plan to help ensure that veterans have a place in the workforce, and that employers understand the value of hiring veterans. The plan builds on Joining Forces, the national initiative to support military families spearheaded by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden, and proposes the following business incentives:

  • A new Returning Heroes Tax Credit for 2012 and 2013 for hiring unemployed veterans, with a maximum of $2,400 for every unemployed veteran hired and a maximum of $4,800 for hiring a veteran  who has been unemployed for six months or longer; and
  • A two-year extension of a Wounded Warrior Tax Credit that gives businesses a credit for hiring veterans with service-related disabilities (maximum of $4,800 per veteran), and increases the credit for firms that hire veterans with service-related disabilities who have been unemployed for six months or longer (maximum credit of $9,600). This credit currently exists within the framework of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program.

A number of Corporate Voices’ partner companies, including AlliedBarton, Bank of America, Citi, CVS Caremark, TJX and Verizon Wireless already have existing hiring initiatives for military spouses and veterans. Best practice companies such as these serve as models for the wider business community and are testimony to the value of hiring highly skilled veterans.

As President Obama announced this jobs initiative, he said,

“Today we’re saying to our veterans: You fought for us, and now we’re fighting for you—for the jobs and the opportunities that you need to keep your families strong, and to keep America competitive in the 21st century.”

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and a recipient of Corporate Voices’ 2010 Best of Congress Award, is sponsoring a similar bill that has companion legislation in the House, signaling that this initiative has bi-partisan support. Corporate Voices will continue to monitor progress on this hiring initiative for veterans and what it may mean for your business.

If you are a corporate partner of Corporate Voices and have a hiring initiative for veterans but were not mentioned in this post, please let us know so we can highlight your leadership in the future.

Read more about President Obama’s jobs initiative for veterans, including a challenge to the private sector and government-wide efforts to improve career training and education for veterans transitioning back into civilian life on the White House blog.