As mentioned, I'm a longtime teacher, and I've been lucky enough to have that skill move with me — via the ability to teach remotely — even as I've changed physical locations.
But that doesn’t change the fact that military spouses are the most underemployed group in the nation, with a whopping 63% of us underemployed. According to the National Commission of State Legislatures, “Military spouses faced a 22% unemployment rate and a 26% wage gap compared to their civilian counterparts before COVID-19.” Military spouses face an unemployment rate roughly five times more than the national rate.
Many cite childcare as one of the biggest issues, and it’s tough out there – especially for families with young children. There are subsidies available for those who work full time, but those who work part time don’t qualify, so we have to spend our already depressed wages for the opportunity to work. Last year, for example, a full third of my income went to an eight-hour per week babysitter – and she was a steal for our area.
Why does the burden of childcare often fall on the spouse? Military members often have unpredictable work hours and rotating shifts that include days, nights, weekends, and 24-hour shifts. Many spouses don’t have consistency for childcare or regular work hours we can commit to.
Further, anyone with a keen eye can spot a military spouse on a resume, which becomes a liability for many companies. Since it’s extremely hard to get a job you’re qualified for, so many will take any job just to get by — some leaving advanced degrees, law practices, and teaching careers behind.