Study: 90 Percent of Active Duty Service Member Spouses Are Underemployed

Alexandria, Va. — Feb. 12

The Military Officers Association of America and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University announced the results of a study focused on military spouse employment showing that 90 percent of female spouses of active duty service members say they are underemployed.

This means they possess more formal education and experience than needed at their current or most recent position. Additionally, the 2012 American Community Survey data show military spouses make an average of 38 percent less total personal income and are 30 percent more likely to be unemployed than their civilian counterparts.

While ACS data consistently show noticeable gaps in income and unemployment between armed forces spouses and their civilian counterparts, the most recent survey discovered there is not a lack of desire to work that is causing these gaps.

More than 55 percent of respondents indicated they “need” to work, while 90 percent indicated they “want” to work. However, active duty military spouses are more likely to have moved within states, across states and abroad, compared to their civilian and veteran counterparts. The increased likelihood of moving from one geographic location to another further compounds economic issues for these families.

According to the survey, other factors affecting their 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 child care costs.

Source: Syracuse University