Federal contractors will be subject to new hiring rules effective today that will require them to hire minimum numbers of veterans and disabled workers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Contractors that don't meet the benchmarks for employing disabled workers and veterans or show that they are taking steps to do so could face penalties or potentially have their contracts revoked, Labor Department officials said.

The target for disabled workers is 7 percent, and for veterans, the goal would either be based on the national percentage of veterans in the workforce - currently 8 percent - or a company's own benchmark based on the best available data.

The rules are part of an effort to reduce the jobless rate among the disabled and for certain veterans, including those who served in Vietnam or the Gulf War or who recently returned from military action.

The regulations update the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These laws have required federal contractors and subcontractors to affirmatively recruit, hire, train and promote qualified veterans and people with disabilities for the past four decades.