Bevin & Reynolds: Military Spouses Face Added Challenges While Trying to Find Jobs

Military families reunited last month at a Navy submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, following a deployment. Laws recently passed in all states were aimed at making it easier for military spouses to stay in their career as their families move from state to state.
Associated Press

Governor Matt Bevin and Governor Kim Reynolds write in the Washington Post that, despite record low unemployment in their respective states, the unemployment rate for spouses of active duty military was 24 percent in 2017:

With Americans nationwide enjoying the best job market in decades, the unemployment rates in our states, Kentucky (4.1 percent) and Iowa (2.4 percent), are also at or near generational lows. Yet at least one group of Americans struggles with high unemployment: military spouses. In the most recent figures available, the Defense Department reported that the unemployment rate for spouses of military members on active duty in 2017 was 24 percent.

Military spouses who can find work often must settle for jobs below their skill and experience levels. They earn 27 percent less than their civilian counterparts with similar skills and experience, according to a 2018 report by the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. A 2017 U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey found that nearly half of military spouses describe their financial situation as “struggling” or living “paycheck to paycheck.”

It’s bad enough that the country is letting down the more than 600,000 spouses of America’s men and women in uniform, but the Pentagon says  the lack of job opportunities also potentially harms national security: “The inability of spouses to obtain and retain fulfilling employment as they relocate with the military compromises the quality of life of military families and the readiness of the military force.” The employment barriers facing military spouses may also make it more difficult to recruit men and women willing to serve in the armed forces.

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