WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is asking Congress to approve new initiatives to help some of America's 1 million unemployed military veterans find work, including tax credits for companies that hire out-of-work vets.
The proposal Obama is to outline Friday is part of the president's efforts to return to a focus on jobs after spending weeks mired in the contentious debt-limit debate that consumed the White House for much of the summer.
His announcement was to follow the Labor Department's release of a new round of nationwide unemployment data showing that hiring picked up more than expected in July, with employers adding 117,000 jobs and the jobless rate inching down to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent in June.
Even so, the unemployment rate has topped 9 percent in every month except two since the recession officially ended in June 2009.
The White House says the sluggish economy creates additional challenges for veterans looking to enter the civilian labor market. About 1 million veterans are unemployed, according the administration, including former 260,000 service members who joined the military after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The administration says the unemployment rate for the post-Sept. 11 service members is 13.3 percent.
The main features of Obama's proposal, according to administration officials, are two tax credits for companies that hire unemployed veterans:
— A "Returning Heroes" tax credit for 2012-2013. Companies that hire unemployed veterans would receive a $2,400 tax credit. That tax credit would increase to $4,800 if the veteran has been unemployed for six months or more.
— A two-year extension of the "Wounded Warriors" tax credit, which gives companies that hire veterans with service-related disabilities a $4,800 credit. If the veteran has been unemployed for six months of more, the tax credit increases to $9,600.
The tax credits would require congressional approval. Administration officials said the White House would start working with lawmakers on the proposal after Congress returns from its recess in September.
One official said the administration estimates the cost of the tax credits at $120 million.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the initiatives ahead of the president's announcement at the Washington Navy Yard.
During his remarks Friday, Obama also will challenge private companies to hire or train 100,000 veterans by the end of 2013. He is expected to name some companies that already have committed to taking part in that effort.
The president also will announce a joint initiative between the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to come up with a "reverse boot camp" program that would help train service members for the civilian workforce as they wind down their time in the military.
Julie Pace can be reached at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.