Veteran unemployment down, but job fair and franchises beckon

Lowell Hester, Vietnam War vet, owner of the Mr. Transmission franchise in Sandy Springs.

Lowell Hester, Vietnam War vet, owner of the Mr. Transmission franchise in Sandy Springs.

The employment rate for veterans does not always match the levels of pro-veteran rhetoric.

Of course, a veteran can have any kind of job. But some companies make a special attempt to include vets in hiring or in management programs, and the government too sometimes tailors its job efforts to appeal to vets.

For instance, the state Labor Department on Thursday is sponsoring a jobs fair for veterans Thursday in Lawrenceville, in partnership with Gwinnett Technical College.

But there are other options besides picking up a paycheck.

For example, there’s the idea of owning a franchise – a little more risk, perhaps, and a larger up-front investment, but also the potential upsides of entrepreneurship.

More than 14 percent of all franchises in the U.S. are owned by veterans – a total of 66,000 franchises owned by veterans, according to Illinois-based Moran Family of Brands.

Moran officials said they have 16 veterans among 120 franchisees.

Among them, Lowell Hester who owns the Mr. Transmission store in Sandy Springs. Hester is an Air Force vet who served in Vietnam. His son, Scott Hester, is a Navy vet who also owns a Mr. Transmission store.

The company said the standard franchise fee for a Moran brand is $35,000, but the company said there are programs that offer discounts.

As the nation slouches toward Veterans Day 2016, the current average compares favorably with the larger isn't bad: the most recent unemployment rate for veterans is 4.3 percent, compared to the U.S. rate of 4.9 percent.

But like the rest of America, veterans come in a range of demographics, and their employment situation likewise varies.

Things were at their best, jobwise, in the fall of 2007 when the unemployment rate for veterans fell as low as 3.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A couple months later, the recession began and the impact on veterans was similar to that of other workers.

Veteran unemployment crested in early 2011 at 9.9 percent.

But the situation also varies with age. Younger veterans tend to have the highest unemployment rates, although there are more older vets out of work. As of last month, the jobless rate for 18-to-24 year old vets was a recession-like 13.5 percent.

In contrast, the jobless rate for Gulf War era vets was one-third that.

About 20.8 million Americans are veterans, and, based on last year's data, Georgia has 716,000 of them. In the southeast, only in Florida – with 1.6 million – has more.

In Georgia, 53 percent of veterans are in the workforce, just slightly more than the national average. Most of those who are not in the workforce are older, retired or disabled people. And the unemployment rate for Georgia vets is 4.9 percent, compared to the state rate of 5.1 percent.



The Labor Department’s job fair for veterans will be held from 12 noon to 3 p.m. in Building 700 at Gwinnett Tech, 5150 Sugarloaf Parkway. The event is open to all job seekers, but veterans will be allowed to enter at 11:30 a.m.

Jobseekers interested in attending the job fair may visit

For information about the event, contact at the Labor Department or call (770) 840-2200.

More information is also available at