HIRING VETS AND NJ’S GOVERNOR-ELECT

By Mark F. Kluger and William H. Healey

We cannot let Veteran’s Day weekend pass without reminding employers of the benefits of hiring military veterans. With the unemployment rate at a 17 year low, employers in almost every sector struggle with recruiting and/or retaining qualified candidates. While the unemployment rate for vets overall is the lowest since 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 5.1% of the Gulf War-era II veterans (serving post 9/11) remain unemployed. According to a recent ZipRecruiter survey, of those veterans who are working, one-third are considered underemployed meaning that they are working in jobs that are below their objective experience or training levels. That is twice the rate of underemployment for non-veterans. There is no question that the military is a great source for desperately needed, well trained IT professionals, but if you seek employees for any position, keep in mind that military training fosters organization, discipline, work ethic, can-do attitude and integrity. Who can’t use more of that in their workforce?

During the campaign, New Jersey’s Governor-elect actually addressed the unemployment rate of veterans in the state and promised a fix. Veterans groups have long complained that the bureaucracy in the Garden State’s Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs unnecessarily slows assistance to job-seeking discharged vets. According to the new Gov, that is because the DMVA is responsible for both the active duty National Guard and veterans affairs. He has promised to create two agencies in order to streamline services for the vets. That sounds like a good thing. And now for the rest of the story.

The Governor-elect has also promised to raise NJ’s minimum wage from $8.44 to $15 and there is already a Bill teed up in the legislature just awaiting his Coronation. If that won’t ratchet up the cost of doing business in the state enough, the legislature passed a drastically revised Paid Family Leave Insurance law that the state’s outgoing Head Life Guard, conditionally vetoed and has been sitting on since the summer….OUCH. That law, which will no doubt come right back to the new Governor, increases the benefit from 6 to 12 weeks, raises the rate of compensation, and will add siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and parents-in-law to the list of caregivers eligible for the benefit.

In an effort to counter-act the stress that these changes and the anticipated new taxes in New Jersey will cause, the new Governor has also promised to legalize marijuana. He does claim that the recreational pot industry will add $300 million in new tax revenue to the state budget. But before you get too mellow, we’ll need to figure out  how to deal with those  positive for pot  results on pre-employment drug tests. Stay tuned.

Finally, speaking of veterans, employment and New Jersey politics, we are pleased that our Tinton Falls location has a new mayor, Vito Perillo–a 93 year old WWII vet and first time office holder. Gotta love that Greatest Generation!