Perez: Feds ‘practicing what we preach’ on veteran hiring

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez on Wednesday touted the Obama administration’s efforts to hire more returning veterans to civilian jobs.

Perez, speaking at a Veterans Day event at the Labor Department, said the administration’s initiative to lower the stubbornly high unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans is paying dividends.

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He pointed to recent reports showing the government reached a 20-year high for veteran hiring in 2012.

“Almost 29 percent of all hires were veterans, so we’re practicing what we preach at the federal level,” Perez said.

He said the administration would likely eclipse the 30 percent mark this year.

Perez’s remarks follow the issuance in September of regulations laying out new benchmarks for the number of veterans government contractors should hire.

Initially, the standard is set at 8 percent, though the number but could fluctuate depending on the numbers of veterans in the workforce at a given time. The standards represents a target only, and failure to meet them would not result in penalties under the regulations.

Perez said the administration's effort was aided by a recognition that veterans often demonstrate qualities employers are looking for: punctuality, teamwork and an ability to learn on the job.

“This isn’t about some charity initiative — quite the contrary — this is in our enlightened self interest,” he said. 

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