Congressman Ron Wright (R-TX-06) introduced H.R. 5250, the Veterans Back to Work Act of 2019, Thursday.

The bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop of Georgia, would make the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which is set to expire at the end of the year, permanent. It will also increase incentives for businesses that hire traditionally underemployed groups such as veterans.

“Although our economy currently has its lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, 326,000 veterans remain unemployed around the country,” Wright said. “We should be doing everything we can to facilitate veterans’ transition into the civilian workforce. We have over seven million unfilled jobs in the United States. Making the WOTC permanent is a great way to ensure our veterans are set up for success. There is no reason not to incentivize businesses to fill jobs with the men and women that served and sacrificed so much for our nation.”

The WOTC is a Federal tax credit available to private-sector businesses and certain non-profit organizations for hiring individuals from nine target groups, including veterans, who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.

In 2015, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, which extended the WOTC through the end of December 2019, was signed into law.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans' Employment & Training Service reports that of the 326,000 unemployed veterans in 2018, nearly 60 percent were age 45 and over; 35 percent were ages 25-44, and six percent were ages 18-24.

The October Jobs Report also concluded that the jobless rate for all veterans fell to an 18-year low of 3.5 percent in 2018, from its peak at 9.9 percent in 2011.