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Report highlights employment burdens on military spouses

By Dan Merica, CNN
updated 4:53 AM EST, Wed February 15, 2012

Washington (CNN) -- In an effort to ease high unemployment numbers among military spouses, the Obama administration plans to highlight the need to streamline occupational licensing between states.

The decision follows a report that outlines the struggles for regularly moving military families.

First lady Michelle Obama, along with Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, will unveil the joint Defense and Treasury Department report Wednesday at the Pentagon.

Military families are 10 times more likely to move across state lines than civilian families, according to the report, which means the more than 100,000 military spouses whose jobs require licenses or certificates struggle to deal with these frequent moves.

This burden adversely affects certain jobs, too.

"Teaching is the most common occupation among military spouses, followed by child care services, and nursing," the report said. "While many of the common occupations among military spouses are not licensed, some of the most popular professions, including teaching and nursing, do require licensure."

As of June, the unemployment rate for military spouses was 26%, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That number is alarmingly higher than the 8.3% unemployment rate for the general labor force.

The report also argues that this unemployment problem could lead to issues in retaining service members.

"A spouse's employment plays a key role in the financial and personal well-being of military families, and their job satisfaction is an important component of the retention of service members," the report said. "Without adequate support for military spouses and their career objectives, the military could have trouble retaining service members."

A 2008 Defense Manpower Data Center survey shows that there is a desire for streamlining among military spouses, too.

Nearly 40% of actively duty military spouses polled said that 'easier state-to-state transfer of certification' would have helped them with their employment search after a move, according to the survey.

A total of 11 states have already adopted legislation to address this issue, while an additional 13% have proposed legislation that would aid military spouses.

This announcement comes after Obama and Biden visited four states to raise awareness of the needs of families of military service members.

"This campaign is about all of us," the first lady said at a White House ceremony in April.

"All of us joining together, as Americans, to give back to the extraordinary military families who serve and sacrifice so much, every day, so that we can live in freedom in security," she said.

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