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Report Shows Qualified San Diego Veterans Struggling For Employment

Veterans in San Diego County are younger and better educated than their counterparts elsewhere, and earn more money when working, but businesses could do more to help them find employment, according to a report released today by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber report found that the unemployment rate among the estimated 241,000 veterans residing in San Diego County roughly mirrored the population as a whole in 2011. However, for those over age 55, the unemployment rate was 11.4 percent for veterans, compared to 8.1 percent for non-veterans.

According to the chamber, San Diego businesses have to pay attention to the needs of veterans, since those leaving the service after the most recent conflicts are more likely to settle here than elsewhere, and many more will come here in the future.

The study found that 16 percent of the veterans in San Diego County are between the ages of 18 and 34, nearly double the national average. Nearly 29,000 veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq live locally, according to the report.

Bill Holman, the chamber's vice president of external affairs, said the study was important for the area's business community.

"Regional businesses must do their part to help returning veterans -- whether it's through employment opportunities, informational interviews, professional recommendations or other resources," Holman said. "It is imperative that we show these young men and women the same service and dedication that they have shown for our country."

Businesses should become familiar with state and federal tax breaks that encourage them to hire veterans, attend job fairs for veterans, and ensure that human resources policies are veteran-friendly, the report suggested.

The study found that while many former military members have fared well in their switch to life as private citizens, others have found that their military experience doesn't translate well to civilian jobs, or they lack of experience in creating resumes, job hunting or interviewing; have physical or mental health challenges; or need time to decompress from the stress of military life.

Among the findings in the chamber study:

The total number of veterans living in San Diego County is third in the nation, behind Los Angeles County and Maricopa County, Ariz., which encompasses Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa;

Veterans make up 8.3 percent of San Diego County's labor force;

35.6 percent of San Diego-area veterans have at least a bachelor's degree, two points higher than the general population locally, and nine points higher than all veterans;

42.9 percent of veterans in the county have completed at least some college, compared to 30 percent in the general local population and 36.3 percent among all veterans in the U.S.; and

The median income for employed veterans in San Diego County in 2011 was $46,435, or $20,000 higher than the general local population.

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