WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- A pledge by the construction industry to hire 100,000 U.S. veterans helps veterans seeking work as well as the economy, first lady Michelle Obama said Monday.
Speaking at a symposium at the U.S. Labor Department, Obama said she was "thrilled" to announce that more than 100 companies committed to hire more than 100,000 veterans over the next five years.
"This is huge. It's a huge deal," Obama said.
"I know that you all have made this commitment not just because it is the patriotic thing to do, which it is," Obama said. "You've done this because you know that it is the smart thing to do for your businesses."
"All men and women who have sacrificed for our country in our armed services deserve opportunities for good jobs worthy of their character and their achievements," Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said in a release. "The Department of Labor will do whatever it takes to help our veterans translate their skills and leadership into jobs."
Perez said he was "inspired by the commitment displayed today by the construction industry and all our partners in helping to achieve that mission."
The construction industry is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, the Labor Department said. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said construction is among the fastest-growing industries in the nation, estimating a job growth of more than 1.5 million jobs between now and 2022, representing an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent.