Get Hired or Get Out: New Report Highlights Ongoing Military Spouse Employment Woes

group of people discussing challenges military families face
(Tryphena Mayhugh/DVIDS)

Retention is an ongoing problem for dual-income military families, as military spouses continue to face challenges creating and keeping their own career despite deployments and moves, according to data in a report released Thursday.

Nearly 40% of current military spouses surveyed said their families have "seriously discussed" leaving the military specifically because of their career, while 32% said support for their own work or career was a "major consideration" in their family's decision to transition back into the civilian world.

The online survey, conducted by Grow with Google and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring our Heroes, surveyed 1,522 current and former military spouses in late 2019.

While military spouses are highly educated, the survey found, they still face under- and unemployment challenges at a higher rate than their civilian counterparts, the report states. Overall, an estimated 10-16% of military spouses are unemployed, compared to the current national unemployment rate of 3.7%.

Of those surveyed, only about 25% said they have pursued entrepreneurship, with 61% of those spouses saying they chose to become independent contractors rather than start their own small business. 

screenshot from online employment summit
(Courtesy Photo)

While employment might have once been seen as a "nice to have" by military spouses, that so many see it as impacting retention could mean it's now seen as a "need to have," the report notes.

To address that issue, the report authors recommend giving spouses more viable remote options. Of those surveyed who said they were employed, 70% said they held a job with set hours in a physical location, but only 10% considered that ideal. And most military spouses -- almost 80% -- said their most common challenge is that they've had to put their career "on the backburner because of the challenges of living in a military family."

The authors also recommend that military spouses be connected with online platforms to match them with employers who are committed to providing remote work opportunities. They also suggest military organizations prioritize connecting spouses with remote positions that aren't just out of a physical office, but can also move with them.

The report was released as part of the Military Spouse Career Journeys Roadmap, an online tool designed to help guide military spouses through their career plans by providing information, resources and support.

The complete findings from the survey are available online.

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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at rebecca.alwine@monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebecca_alwine.

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