Survey: Do Military Spouses Really Have Careers?

MOAA's Military Spouse Employment Survey

Do you ever get the feeling that we don’t know jack about spouse employment in the military?

The subject has had a lot of attention in recent years -- even from the White House. But the actual numbers are really confusing.

The Defense Department keeps telling us that the unemployment rate among military spouses is 26 percent, three times the national average. But only 15 percent of military spouses report that they are actively looking for a job.

Nearly half of all spouses are in the labor market, but we don’t know whether they are employed full time, employed part time or running a home business. We don’t know if they are CEOs of multinational companies or struggling to break even with a Scentsy party.

That’s why I was glad to see the that the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) has taken a strong step forward to find out what military spouses really do for a living.

When I talked to Karen Golden, MOAA’s deputy director of government relations, she agreed that all we really have right now is anecdotal information regarding the challenges military spouses face with employment.

“We need rigorous science to give us the facts and numbers,” Golden said. “In an era of diminishing resources, this information will help with appropriate programming, good policies and legislation.”

Without this data, it is really hard for those who are trying to help military spouses with the challenging process of finding meaningful work to get funding.

Working in conjunction with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), MOAA launched The Military Spouse Employment Survey this week.

This survey is designed to provide a platform for all military spouses to share their challenges of employment while trying to navigate the military lifestyle. The survey is completely voluntary and anonymous.

MOAA would like active-duty, National Guard, reserve, veteran and surviving spouses who are 18 years and older to participate by sharing their experiences and lessons learned.

The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete and will be available for 30 days.

Golden told me that they are really hoping for at least 4000 participants. So please spread this along your social networks to other military spouses at #MilSpouseSurvey.

Whether you are presently looking for a job or you are in a job you like or you are an at-home parent who won’t be looking for a job for years, please take part in the survey and help a whole community of military spouses.

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