The U.S. economic outlook is healthy according to the key economic indicators. The most critical indicator is the gross domestic product, which measures the nation’s production output. The GDP growth rate is expected to remain between the 2 percent to 3 percent ideal range. Unemployment is forecast to continue at the natural rate. There isn’t too much inflation or deflation. That’s a Goldilocks economy.


President Trump promised to increase economic growth to 4 percent. That’s faster than is healthy. Growth at that pace leads to an overconfident irrational exuberance. That creates a boom that leads to a damaging bust.  Find out what causes these changes in the business cycle.


U.S. GDP growth will rise to 2.5 percent in 2018. It’s the same as in 2017, but better than the 2.1 percent growth in 2016. The GDP growth rate will be 2.1 percent in 2019 and 2.0 percent in 2020. That’s according to the most recent forecast released at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on December 13, 2017.  This estimate takes into account Trump’s policies.


The unemployment rate will drop to 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2019 but rise to 4.0 percent in 2020. That’s better than the 4.1 percent rate in 2017, and the 4.7 percent rate in 2016. It’s also better than the Fed’s 6.7 percent target. But Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen admits a lot of workers are part-time and would prefer full-time work.


Also, most job growth is in low-paying retail and food service industries. Some people have been out of work for so long that they’ll never be able to return to the high-paying jobs they used to have. That means structural unemployment has increased. These traits are unique to this recovery. They also make the unemployment rate seem low. Yellen considers the real unemployment rate to be more accurate. It’s double the widely-reported rate.


Inflation will be 1.9 percent in 2018, 2.0 percent in 2019 and beyond. It was 1.7 percent in 2017. They are lower than the 2.1 percent rate in 2016, and the 0.7 percent inflation experienced in 2015. The low rates in those years were caused by declining oil prices. The core inflation rate strips out those volatile gas and food prices. The Fed prefers to use that rate when setting monetary policy. The core inflation rate will be 1.9 percent in 2018, 2.0 percent in 2019 and 2020. (It’s unusual that the core rate is that similar to the regular inflation rate.) Fortunately, the core rate is close to the Fed’s 2.0 percent target inflation rate. That gives the Fed room to raise rates to a more normal level. Here’s more on the U.S. Inflation Rate History and Forecast.


U.S. manufacturing is forecast to increase faster than the general economy. Production will grow 2.8 percent in 2018. Growth will slow to 2.6 percent in 2019 and 2 percent in 2020. Those forecasts have not yet taken into account President Trump’s promises to create more jobs.





Table A-5. Employment status of the civilian population 18 years and over by veteran status, period of service, and sex, not seasonally adjusted

[Numbers in thousands]

Employment status, veteran status, and period of service











Gulf War-era II veterans









Unemployment rate








National unemployment rate is 4.1 percent (January 2018). Gulf War II veterans unemployment rate is 4.1 percent.[1] Currently, the unemployment rate for Gulf War II women veterans is 2.6 percent (down from 3.3 percent in December).



On Tuesday, March 6, the National Veterans Employment & Education Division met with the DC Coalition for Homeless to discuss homelessness issues in DC along with shelter and transitional housing opportunities. This is a monthly meeting that deals with housing occupancies and other issues pertaining to the reintegration of homeless individuals in mainstream society.


On Tuesday, March 6, The Veterans Employment and Education Division met with AARP to discuss small business programing, resources and content we can share, considering the cross section between our memberships.


On Tuesday, March 6, The Veterans Employment and Education Division was on the air with CBS radio’s Connecting Veterans to discuss the Legion’s small business initiatives regarding advocacy, events and counseling. The American Legion was also joined by Lynn Lowder from One Vet at a Time.


On Wednesday, March 7, The Veterans Employment and Education Division chaired the SBA’s Interagency Taskforce. This committee oversees federal agencies’ compliance on small business goaling with regards to service disabled veterans owned small business set-asides.


On Thursday, March 8, the National Veterans Employment & Education Division met with VA personnel from the Center for Women Veterans and Center for Minority Veterans to discuss homelessness and employment options once the veteran obtains housing. There are plans to have follow-up meetings to discuss priorities and outcomes as these veterans engage VA facilities. 


On Thursday, March 8, the National Veterans Employment & Education Division met with Linda Brooks Rix, CEO AVUE Technologies and Taskforce Leader, The American Legion Employment Innovation Taskforce, discussed the future platform for delivering the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).  Today’s Transitioning Servicemembers (TSM) are more attuned to the use of technology, the digitation of TAP  would allow TSM’s, veterans and their spouses to access updated information for “Just in time” situations as opposed to “point in time”, in which the information may become outdated or irrelevant.  


On Friday, March 9, The Veterans Employment and Education Division met with First Data Salutes to discuss their participation in our employment and small business programing for the National Convention in August.


On Friday, March 9, The Veterans Employment and Education Division will speak at a DC, MD and VA focused career services provider roundtable hosted by Careerleader LLP. The company focuses on Helping jobseekers and entrepreneurs understand what organizational cultures will be the best fit for them.



Getting Ready to Get Out – Step One: Visit the TAP Office


Whether you are thinking about getting out or have already started the process, there are hundreds of things to consider when preparing for the transition back into civilian life. Thankfully there are trained professionals and other resources that can guide you through the process. The idea of returning to civilian life can be exciting and overwhelming — the transition process is complex. So where should you start?


Step One: One of the first things you must do, if you haven’t already, is to make an appointment to meet with your installation’s transition assistance staff. These dedicated professionals are available to assist you with special transition benefits information, employment workshops, automated employment job-hunting tools and job banks, veteran benefits information, disabled veterans benefits information and many other types of transition and other related information is available to you. AND IT’S ALL FREE. Take full advantage of TAP and all it has to offer. Remember though, you have many steps to take, and many questions to get answered, only you and your family can make the critical decisions that must be made.


You can start the transition process as early as 12 months prior to separation or 24 months prior to retirement. The sooner you start the better. There is a lot of information to absorb and you need time to plan and decide what is in the best interest for yourself and your family.


If you are uncertain about your future plans, now is the time to get the assistance and information you need. Professional guidance and counseling are available at your Transition Assistance Office, as are workshops, publications, information resources, automated resources, and government programs. Take advantage of each one that pertains to your unique situation. In those cases where the Transition Counselor cannot answer your questions, you will be referred to subject matter experts that can give you the information that you need.


Your TAP counselor will give you a checklist to get you started. This “Pre-Separation Counseling Checklist” (DD Form 2648) is where it all starts, it will help you to identify the benefits, counseling, and services that can help you prepare your personalized Individual Transition Plan.


If you are uncertain about your future plans, now is the time to get all the assistance and information you need. Professional guidance and counseling is available at a Transition Assistance Office, as are workshops, publications, information resources, automated resources, and government programs. Take advantage of each one that pertains to your unique situation.




Madison (WI) wants to build 1,000 affordable apartments over five years, and that effort got a big boost last week. City officials have learned that five out of six affordable development projects received crucial, competitive federal tax credits, including three projects that didn’t make the cut in last year’s funding cycle. Together, the projects will result in 310 units, 281 of which will be affordable. That will bring the number of affordable units built by the city since 2014 to over 700. At a press conference last week at the site of one of the approved projects, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said that puts Madison “well on track” to hit its 1,000-unit goal. He added that the city has “virtually eliminated” chronic homelessness of veterans. But Soglin said Madison won’t stop when it hits 1,000. “The one thing you do when you achieve a goal is you raise the bar,” he said. He listed two more goals: ending homelessness for all veterans and ending all chronic homelessness.


Major affordable development in Madison is often impossible without federal low-income housing tax credits. The credits are distributed through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and can account for 75 to 80 percent of the development cost, according to Jim O’Keefe, the city’s community development division director. The city’s $25 million Affordable Housing Fund was created in 2014 with the goal of creating 1,000 affordable units in five years. It has contributed $15.8 million to various projects, and those local commitments make project applications more competitive in the WHEDA scoring system. “(The credits) are popular. They are coveted. They are highly sought after,” said WHEDA chief operating officer Brian Schimming. “Only the best of the best get awards. The city is doing very, very well this round,” he said, referring to Madison.


Before 2014, the city didn’t make a concerted effort to take advantage of WHEDA tax credits, O’Keefe said, and there were “very few, if any” WHEDA applications for Madison projects. Over the last few years, Madison has turned into one of the “more aggressive or active city governments” in the program. Thirteen Madison projects have secured almost $95 million in WHEDA credits, contributing to over $257 million in estimated development costs. Those projects created 835 total units, about 745 of which are affordable. Of the affordable units, 163 are set aside for homeless individuals or families.


This is the city’s fourth cycle of WHEDA applications. Last year, three out of six Madison projects received funding. This year, those three rejected proposals reapplied and were granted funds: Park Street Apartments, Tree Lane Senior Housing and Fair Oaks Apartments. Park Street Apartments by Heartland Housing at 1202 S. Park Street is a permanent supportive housing project. The proposal would build 58 units for homeless single adults. The project is estimated to cost $11.6 million dollars and the city has committed $1.9 million from the Affordable Housing Fund. WHEDA awarded the full requested amount of $8.1 million over 10 years.





This week, work continued on The American Legion’s upcoming hiring events to be staged in Coast Guard Base Alameda (CA), Detroit, Dover Air Force Base, Fort Bragg (NC), Fort Gordon (GA), Fort Sam Houston, Herndon (VA), Houston, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Springfield (VA), St. Paul (MN), Tampa and Washington, DC.

The mission of The American Legion’s National Veterans Employment & Education Commission is to take actions that affect the economic wellbeing of veterans, including issues relating to veterans’ education, employment, home loans, vocational rehabilitation, homelessness, and small business.


According to a survey by cloud accounting software company Freshbooks, the number of self-employed Americans could triple to 42 million by 2020. The study, which included 2,700 American workers in all kinds of working arrangements (traditional employees, independent professionals and small-business owners), was conducted in conjunction with ResearchNow. It specifically excluded “gig economy” workers who use online platforms such as Uber to land temporary work. Instead, it focused on professionals whose main source of income comes from independent client-based work.


The number of such self-employed workers in the U.S. stands at 15 million. But with many people placing more value on maintaining flexibility and autonomy and less on climbing a traditional corporate ladder, Freshbooks forecasts that an additional 27 million workers will go the self-employed route over the next two years.


Millennials are driving the shift — 42 percent of the expected influx of self-employed workers will come from that age range, according to the survey. But According to AARP, older workers are opting to take the be-your-own-boss career path as well, and the ones who do so report a significant rise in job satisfaction. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 50 and 65 said being self-employed makes them want to keep working longer and push back their retirement plans.


With a membership of over 37 million people AARP provides resources that focuses on the elderly, especially on how they can continue to live well after retirement. See their employment and entrepreneurship resources for veterans and caregivers below. – Entrepreneur Tools – AARP Work Resources  – AARP’s Job Board  – AARP Employer Pledge Program – AARP Small Business Resources   AARP Caregiving Resource Center– AARP Veterans and Military Families




 Update – Important Information for Ashford Students 


Ashford’s online programs are not fully compliant with GI Bill approval requirements; namely, its online programs must be approved by the state in which its main campus is located. The evidence available to VA strongly indicates that Ashford’s main campus is in California, but Ashford has not yet obtained approval from California as is required by law. Consequently, on November 9, 2017, VA notified Ashford that they must take steps to correct this problem, or VA will no longer be able to legally pay benefits based on attending Ashford. However, as part of a plan to resolve the situation, VA informed Ashford that VA would continue to make payments to students attending Ashford until January 9, 2018, to give Ashford additional time to seek compliance with GI Bill approval requirements under the law. Also, as part of this same plan, Ashford agreed to apply to California by January 8, 2018, for approval of its online courses. VA is pleased to report that Ashford applied to California on January 5, 2018. Therefore, at this point in time, VA will continue to pay benefits as long as Ashford continues to make a good faith effort to seek approval in California. It is important to understand that if at any time VA determines that Ashford is no longer making a good faith effort to gain approval in California, VA may be forced to stop making benefit payments. As VA has always maintained, approval by California would resolve VA’s concerns and allow uninterrupted benefits for students attending Ashford.





Joseph C. Sharpe, Jr., Director

Veterans Employment & Education Division

202.861.2700 ext. 2989

Week Ending:  3/9/18