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Study finds that military spouse unemployment could cost up to $1Billion


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A new study says  struggle to find jobs and are more likely to work for less pay or in positions below their education level, spurring unemployment and other costs totalling up to $1 billion a year.

 wrestle with frequent moves, deployments and erratic schedules of their service member mates. They have an unemployment rate of up to 18 percent, compared with last month’s national jobless rate of 5 percent.

The problem is not new to the Pentagon. In recent years, there has been a flood of new programs aimed at encouraging companies to hire military veterans and spouses.

The study, commissioned by Blue Star Families, says about 42 percent of  are jobless, compared with about 25 percent of a comparable civilian spouse population.

Length of time at each duty station

Active duty service members typically receive orders for relocation every two to three years. Employers are hesitant to offer positions to military spouses because they are likely to move alongside their servicemember shortly after learning their position and/or receiving the proper training/education necessary to be successful in that job.

Lack of experience

Opportunities for future positions or growth outside of frequent moving, stems primarily from age (the percentage of spouses under the age of 34 is 61.8%) or education (65.7% of military spouses have acknowledged having more than a high school education but not a 4 year degree).

Location, Location, Location

Most military spouses love the idea of traveling from one side of the world to the other, but let’s be honest; cultural norms, language barriers and limited knowledge of the area impacts the types of positions available… especially when the spouse is young with a lack of education and/or job skills. Couple that with license portability issues and this is a huge challenge facing our spouses today.

Supporting the Home Front

Demands may differ between spouses who have children compared to those without, but most share many of the duties necessary to keep the home fires burning in our armed forces. Let’s look at volunteerism within the unit to help organize events: as much as I love my husband and the things he does for me, I promise you, he has never organized a party for me and my coworkers, no matter how awesome we truly are. How about spouses who completely manage the household from errands, household chores, or even banking because the servicemember is off training or deployed and is unable to help.

Military spouses are needed at a moment’s notice and step in to assist to support their partner. I’m just scratching the surface of needs that arise at home, but I’d offer that with all the military spouse obligations, they may very well tell you they “don’t remember promising this in their wedding vows”. While these tasks are often small, the amount of time spent taking care of family and commitments can add up quickly, taking away time where they may be available for work.

What does it all boil down to? In a recent survey done by the Military Officers of America and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, they recently reported the following figures:

  • In 2012, 18-24 year-old Armed Forces female spouses had the highest unemployment rates at 30 percent (which is almost three times higher than their civilian counterparts at 11 percent).
  • 25-44 year-old Armed Forces female spouses had the second highest unemployment rates at 15 percent (almost three times higher than their civilian counterparts at 6 percent).
  • Over 50% of respondents indicated their chosen career field requires licensing or certification and 73% requires renewal/reissuing after a PCS move, costing an average of $223.03
  • Respondents reported being underemployed with respect to education (33%), experience (10%), or both (47%).
  • Income significantly differs based on educational attainment and whether the military spouse is working in their preferred career field.”

The information is out there — we’ve linked to the amazing infographic released by MOAA and IVMF with the data collected below.

Now it’s time to talk. What is your experience with this? What do you suggest for improving the opportunities for future military spouses and their families? I’m excited to hear your input on this!

MOAA Infographic on Military Spouse Employment Syracuse University Results Survey Milspouse

USMC Life’s previously published article was posted on this page.
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