Military Spouses Face Economic Disadvantages in Workforce, Study Concludes

Military spouses face a substantial disadvantage compared to their civilian counterparts in employment, income and career advancement, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study, conducted by Military Officers Association of America and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF), found that 90 percent of responding active-duty female spouses reported being underemployed, meaning they possess more formal education or experience than needed at their current or most recent position. About 95 percent of active military spouses are female.

Data from 2012 shows that  female military spouses earn 38 percent less income and are 30 percent more likely to be unemployed than their civilian counterparts, according to the report.

One key result was that more than 50 percent of respondents said their chosen career field requires licensing or certification, with 73 percent of those indicating they need to renew their credentials following a geographic move.   

“This critical research effort examined the range of economic impacts facing military spouses as a result of permanent change of station (PCS) moves, licensure constraints, and lack of career enhancing opportunities which come as a result of their spouse’s service,” IVMF Director of Research Rosalinda Maury said according to a press release.

“The results of this study demonstrate that these challenges are significant and pervasive,” Maury stated.

The study identified a number of factors contributing to the economic disadvantage experienced by active-duty military spouses, starting with the higher likelihood that they have moved within states, across states and abroad, compared to their civilian and veteran counterparts.

Other factors affecting spouses’ unemployment or underemployment include relocating to geographic locations with limited employment opportunities, employer perceptions of military spouses, inability to match skills and education to jobs, inflexible work schedules and high childcare costs, according to the survey.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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