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April 10, 2012
Augusta- Maine’s First Lady, Ann LePage, joined the Veterans’ Employment Committee of the State Workforce Investment Board for a Maine Department of Labor briefing on Veterans’ services and employment trends.
“It is important for the state to be responsive to the needs of Maine Veterans and military families,” said Mrs. LePage. “I am grateful for the efforts of this committee as well as the folks in the field who are working to provide greater opportunities for those who served and sacrificed for our country.”
Dennis Wellman, program manager with the Maine Department of Labor discussed employment and training services offered at no cost for Veterans through Maine’s network of CareerCenters and itinerant locations. Nearly 8,000 Maine Veterans received services through the CareerCenter in 2011.
Labor Department staff also released a new issue brief on labor market trends of Maine’s Veteran population. According to the Census, Maine has the fourth highest concentration of Veterans in the nation. Approximately 132,000 residents are Veterans, representing approximately 13.2 percent of the state population aged 20 or older.
The report noted that labor force participation for Veterans is generally lower than for the nonveteran population and that is largely due to demographic trends of Veterans. Nearly 67 percent of Veterans in the state are over the age of 55, compared with only 33 percent of the nonveteran adult population that fell in the older age bracket. Younger Veterans were just as likely as their younger nonveteran counterparts to be working or looking for work, but Veterans nearing retirement age were significantly less likely to be in the labor market.
Historically, Veterans have had unemployment rates below the nonveteran population. This trend has reversed in recent years with higher unemployment rates for Veterans than nonveteran workers. Most notable was the plight of young Veterans, where unemployment rates nearly tripled to over 14 percent during the recession and early recovery.
Unemployment rates and labor force participation varied widely between counties. Veterans’ unemployment rates ranged from as little as 3.4 percent in Aroostook County to 11.2 percent in Somerset County.
Maine Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass urged the panel to be creative in developing workforce policy targeted to Veterans’ employment. “We need to ensure that every Veteran who wants to work has the services and training they need to get a job,” Winglass said. “I also want to be sure that we don’t forget about women Veterans as we move forward, they represent a small, but not insignificant part of our Veteran population and they deserve our attention.”
A copy of the report, Labor Market Activities of Maine Veterans, is available on the Maine Department of Labor website at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri
The Veterans’ Employment Committee of the State Workforce Investment Board is charged with developing state policy recommendations to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of Veterans’ employment training programs in Maine.
For more information about employment and training services for Veterans, contact the CareerCenter at (207) 623-7981 or TTY 1-800-794-1110 or visit www.mainecareercenter.com.