While America’s overall unemployment rate has dropped to a 19-month low, the good news does not extend to veterans.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics figures released today quoted a national unemployment rate in December 2010 of 9.4 percent, a drop of 0.4 percent from the previous month. However, unemployment among military veterans from the Gulf War-era II – those who had served in the Armed Forces sometime since September 2001 – rose from 10 percent in November 2010 to 11.7 percent in December.

“This disheartening trend demonstrates the continuing difficulty that veterans – especially young ones – are having in finding work in a job market composed primarily of non-veterans,” said Robert W. Madden, assistant director of the Legion’s National Economic Commission.

Madden says young veterans face job-seeking hardships for a number of reasons.

“Primarily,” said Madden, “veterans have trouble finding employment in a scarce job market because they have been out of the domestic workforce for an extended period of time or, in the case of some members of the National Guard, they are called back to duty multiple times. Also, despite the specialized and finely honed skills, expertise and education they have gained, they do not come out of the service possessing the specific civilian licenses and certifications many employers require.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, most Gulf War-era II veterans are men 25 to 34 years of age. Forty-six percent of the men have some college education or an associate’s degree, compared to 28 percent of the non-veteran population with the same level of schooling. The college graduation rate among Gulf War-era II veterans is nearly the same as that of non-veterans (23 to 27 percent, respectively).

Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “veterans from Gulf War-era II were much less likely to be high school dropouts (2 percent) than were non-veterans (14 percent).”

“Clearly, young veterans are very attractive job candidates,” said Madden. “Our job is to communicate that fact to employers and to the veterans themselves.”

To assists veterans in their job search, RecruitMilitary works with The American Legion to conduct dozens of Veteran Opportunity Expos that bring both veterans and active-duty servicemembers seeking employment post-military together with dozens of local, state and national employers. Click here] to see the 2011 expo list.