Survey Shows Military Spouses Underemployed: Data could be used to better employment opportunities

Military Spouses Need Work

By Debbie Gregory.

Many members of the military and Veteran communities are familiar with the saying that being a military wife is the “toughest job” in the military. Usually, only fellow members of the community can see just how accurate that statement is. Dealing with deployments, often functioning as a single parent for months at a time, and trying to keep a household together on military wages. Many military spouses find it to be an economic necessity to take on a second job in addition to their “toughest” job.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the current unemployment rate of female military spouses between the ages of 18 and 24 is close to 30%. This statistic is nearly three times higher than the unemployment rate among civilians from the same demographic. Over 55 percent of spouses who took the survey said they “need” to work. The survey also found that 90% of female military spouses who had jobs claim that they are underemployed– meaning that they are working at jobs below their education and/or experience level.

The MOAA conducted the survey last fall. In it, they questioned more than 2,000 military wives. The data from the survey was combined with information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) from 2012, in order to see a more holistic view of employment challenges that military spouses face.

The study uncovered surprising findings, including the fact that military wives average $15,000 less annually than their civilian counterparts. This can be attributed to the frequency in which military families are relocated during the service member’s career.

MOAA officials hope that the data will be used by the Defense Department when considering the development of additional programs to assist military spouses.

On January 10th, the Department of Defense (DOD) launched a new web portal known as “My Individual Career Plan” (MyICP). The system that runs through Military OneSource was designed to help military spouses design, develop and follow their own individual career plan, based on their personal goals and objectives.

The MyICP tool is available for all spouses of current active-duty Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps personnel. Interested military spouses should inquire and register at the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) Program portal from