Gov. Martin O'Malley plans to tackle the high unemployment rate among Maryland veterans, his office said Tuesday.
By the end of 2015, O'Malley aims to reduce veteran unemployment from 5.3 percent to below 3 percent, which economists would consider full employment, the administration said.
"The military provides our service members with some of the best possible skills and leadership training," O'Malley said in statement. "We want to make sure Maryland's veterans who possess those skills become a part of our workforce."
The new goal comes as first lady Michelle Obama will be in Annapolis Wednesday when O'Malley signs legislation designed to make it easier for veterans to transition into civilian jobs. The bill also eases professional licensing rules for military spouses. O'Malley did not say what further steps he plans to address the issue.
Maryland's veteran unemployment rate is below the national average, which is 7 percent among all veterans and 9.9 percent among veterans deployed after 9/11, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The corresponding figures for Maryland are 5.3 percent and 7.1 percent.
So far, the administration has surveyed state employees who work with veterans on which programs have been effective in helping veterans get jobs and which issues have been barriers for employment. An O'Malley aide said younger veterans have reported trouble with affordable transportation and housing, which could become first steps toward reducing veteran unemployment.