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The National Unemployment Rate Is Uncommonly Low, So Why Aren't More Local Veterans Finding Work?

Keith Srakocic
AP Photo
Army veterans gather with currently serving soldiers in Point State Park as part of the Steel City Supports the Troops event to honor Veterans Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Pittsburgh.

While the nationwide unemployment rate for military veterans hit an 18-year low in January at 3.7 percent, the jobless rate for veterans in Pittsburgh remains at 6.7 percent.

Jack Wagner, a former City Council president, state Senator and state auditor general, now head Pittsburgh Hires Veterans. Wagner, who is a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War, says veterans often leave the military without the soft skills needed to get traditional jobs, like how to write a resume or do well during an interview.

“Every veteran and spouse of a veteran is guaranteed a burial spot, but not a job,” he says. “We teach veterans how to take off in terms of training them in the military, but we don’t teach them well how to land when they come back to civilian life.”

Pittsburgh Hires Veterans is partnering with Point Park University this weekend to host The Starting Point to a New Career, an event designed for veterans and their spouses to get training and find more resources related to getting good jobs. The event is free and open to the public. 

Elsewhere in the program:

The Pittsburgh region could be short 80,000 workers by 2025, according to a recent study by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Researchers attributed much of the loss to upcoming retirements, followed by too little up-and-coming talent in the pipeline. What can local leaders do to meet demand? Earl Buford, CEO of Partner4Work, says Pittsburgh needs a short- and long-term plan, and that both start with engaging industries on what jobs will look like in the coming years. 

Mayor Bill Peduto issued an executive order Monday outlining the city’s expectations for the safe testing of self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh and assigning responsibilities for the development of transparent reporting guidelines for companies participating in research. 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Boden reports that these guidelines do not include penalties for non-compliance, leading some to question their effectiveness.

And political candidates in Pittsburgh began filing monthly campaign finance reports last week ahead of the May primary. Under state law, candidates have long been required to file reports with the county’s elections office, and a few years ago the city passed its own rules requiring reports in the months leading up to the election. WESA editor Chris Potter says there's one glaring omission from this wave of early filings, plus a few other surprises between the margins.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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