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How veterans are faring in the tight labor market

Veterans attend the first Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Job Fair for Veterans in Los Angeles, California on September 14, 2016. read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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One out of every 10 businesses in the U.S. is owned by veterans, and most of those are small businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. But, as with many other American workers, low unemployment is changing how they are entering the workforce.

“We have seen a little bit of a decline in the number of service members getting out and starting businesses,” said Larry Stubblefield, associate administrator at the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development. Stubblefield said part of that decline is because the tight labor market has corporations scrambling to recruit veterans as employees, so fewer have the incentive to become entrepreneurs.

That also means veterans who are already running their own small businesses are struggling to find workers as well. Justen Garrity runs Veteran Compost in Maryland, and has about 20 employees covering residential compost services in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Garrity is a veteran himself, and said he tries to hire former service members whenever he can, but “it’s certainly a challenge in this labor market to find folks.”

That means he spends a lot of his time filling in for missed shifts rather than being able to expand his staff — and business further.

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