WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released a JEC report highlighting the challenges confronting military spouses in the workforce. The report entitled, “Strengthening Military Households by Decreasing the Barriers to Work”, reveals an unemployment rate of 15 percent for military wives in 2010 compared to 7.3 percent for their civilian counterparts.
Many military families depend on two incomes to sustain their households. However, frequent military relocations cause impediments to finding employment. The Government Accountability Office (GAO), found that one-third of all military members move each year. In 2010, 24.1 percent of military wives moved across state lines compared to only 2.4 percent of civilian wives.
Moves across state lines for military spouses in professions that require state-level licensing or certification can be particularly challenging. At least one-third of all military spouses work in these type professions and face re-certification requirements and licensing fees. These roadblocks can be time-consuming and expensive. The top professions for military wives include teachers, childcare workers and registered nurses. These professions are all subjected to licensing or certification.
“As we support our armed servicemen and women, we must not overlook the spouses who also make great sacrifices,” said Chairman Casey. “We must take all necessary efforts to reduce employment barriers so military spouses can have greater opportunity to participate in the workforce and provide for their families.”
Recertification and licensing expenses can cost several hundred dollars. The Military Spouse Job Continuity Act (S.697) would provide a tax credit of up to $500 to any military spouse that must renew or transfer a professional license or certification. Eleven states have already taken steps to facilitate the recertification process as a result of a military relocation. A 2008 Defense Manpower Data Center survey indicated that 40 percent of military spouses revealed that an “easier state-to-state transfer of license” would have been of great assistance during a move.