MEDIA RELEASE: On Veterans Day, remember struggles of jobless veterans

With federal backing for unemployment benefits set to expire soon, national lawmakers should honor veterans with continued support

RALEIGH (Nov. 11, 2011) – On Veterans Day 2011, more than 850,000 veterans are without jobs. To truly honor those who served, analysts say, lawmakers should act now to help vets facing unemployment.

Federal support for extended unemployment benefits will expire at the end of Dec. 2011, impacting tens of thousands of North Carolinians – including the very veterans we honor today. The NC Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center, released a profile of unemployment in North Carolina veterans this morning.

As of October 2011, 859,000 veterans from all wars and other service periods were without jobs. This is roughly equivalent to 171 brigades of the U.S. Army. To put that number in perspective, there were 23 combat brigades deployed in Afghanistan as of Sep. 2009.

The joblessness crisis is increasing among veterans. Between Oct. 2010 and Oct. 2011, the unemployment rate for veterans serving after Sep. 11, 2011 increased by 1.5 percent, to 12.1 percent from 10.6 percent. In 2010, 8.2 percent of all veterans in the Old North State were without jobs while the rate for the nation is slightly higher at 8.5 percent.

“Veterans in North Carolina have fared better than the nation at large,” said Alexandra Forter Sirota, Director of the NC Budget & Tax Center, “but our veterans here continue to experience persistent joblessness as well, which harms families across the state.”
Tens of thousands of North Carolinians, including veterans, will be harmed if federal lawmakers allow unemployment benefits to expire. In Jan. 2012 alone, 69,700 North Carolinians will be affected by the loss of unemployment benefits.

Federal legislation allows states to receive full federal funding for extended unemployment benefits for 34 to 73 weeks after state unemployment programs have been exhausted. In North Carolina, unemployment benefits last 26 weeks. The National Employment Law Project has a petition encouraging lawmakers to extend the badly-needed benefits.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, alexandra@ncjustice.org, 919.861.1468; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).

The N.C. Budget and Tax Center—a project of the N.C. Justice Center—seeks to create economic opportunity and shared prosperity for all North Carolinians through non-partisan research, education and advocacy on budget, tax and economic issues.