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Tom Feran
By Tom Feran January 23, 2012

Sherrod Brown says unemployment among young vets tops 20 percent

Hiring armed forces veterans is nothing new for GrafTech International, a high-tech manufacturer based in Cleveland for 125 years. The practice has been beneficial, the company says, because veterans have the traits of leadership, teamwork and dedication it seeks.

Now looking to hire more veterans for up to 45 jobs at its Lakewood and Parma, Ohio, facilities, GrafTech has found an added benefit: tax incentives.

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which provides job training for service members making the transition to civilian life, also provides tax credit of up to $9,600 to companies hiring unemployed veterans. (VOW stands for Veterans Opportunity to Work.) The legislation was signed into law in November.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, who co-sponsored the act, visited GrafTech to highlight the need for it.

"Today, many veterans -— including our young veterans -— face an unacceptably high unemployment rate," the Democrat said. "More than one in five of veterans aged 20 to 24 can’t find a job to support their family or to ease the transition to civilian life."

More than one in five means an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent among young veterans.

That got PolitiFact Ohio’s attention. It's considerably higher than the national jobless rate. We asked Brown's office where the figure came from.

They referred us to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, whose monthly Current Population Survey provides official statistics on employment and unemployment in the United States.

The bureau collects data about veterans, in tracking various segments of the workforce, and last October it updated a detailed report on the employment situation of veterans in 2010, the latest figures available. Among the findings:

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  • The jobless rate for veterans of all eras combined was 8.7 percent in 2010, slightly lower than the 9.4 percent for non-veterans.

  • The unemployment rate for veterans who served in the military at any time since September 2001 -- a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans -- was 11.5 percent.

  • Young male veterans, or those ages 18 to 24, had an unemployment rate of 21.9 percent.

It’s worth noting that the BLS considered that 21.9 percent rate as "not statistically different from the jobless rate of young male non-veterans," which was 19.7 percent. But Brown wasn’t citing the statistic to contrast it with the unemployment of non veterans.

Rather, he used the GrafTech appearance and the statistic to argue that the country owes it to service members to help them transition back to civilian life.

"Service members who risk their lives protecting our nation shouldn’t have to wonder whether or not they’ll be able to find a job when they leave the service," Brown said. "Just as we invest in our service members while they’re on the battlefield, we should do the same when they return home."

Brown accurately cited the jobless rate for younger veterans. That the non-veteran rate is also high is a piece of additional information that helps provide a clearer picture of the unemployment rate for all younger men.

On the Truth-O-Meter, Brown’s claim rates Mostly True.

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Sherrod Brown says unemployment among young vets tops 20 percent

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