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The unemployment rate among military spouses spiked during Covid


Iris Collis is pictured here with her husband and their four children.

Source: Iris Collis

Iris Collis (46) said that she didn’t realise becoming a spouse to a soldier would impact my ability to continue my career when I first met her husband.

Collis was a teacher, but he struggled to keep a job that lasted more than two years after having four children and five moves.

“Every time that I tried to make some headway, it was too late. It was time to do the next step.”

And then came the pandemic. Her words were: “With Covid a lot employment prospects ended. I had to make certain we looked after our children during home schooling.”

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Military spouse unemployment — a long-standing problem for active-duty families — was only made worse by the pandemic’s child-care and remote school challenges.

Jill Biden was the First Lady and referred recently to this issue as “a national safety imperative.”

“The statistics are concerning,” she said at the Military Spouse Employment Partnership’s 2021 opening event in October.

Nearly 40% of military families stated that they considered quitting active duty service due to difficulties with their spouses.

In normal years, spouses may find it difficult to keep a full-time job to supplement their military income during periods of deployment or the possibility of relocation.

According to the Department of Defense, the military spouse unemployment rate was higher than the national average even before the outbreak of coronavirus. It had been steady for almost a decade.

The pandemic made it more difficult for military spouses and their children to find work.

Blue Star Families’ military lifestyle survey found that service personnel and spouses had ranked this issue as one of their top concerns.

Three-quarters (75%) of military families stated they would be joining the ranks in 2020. couldn’t always find childcareThe Blue Star Families survey revealed that this is an increase of 68% from 2019.

According to Jessica Strong (co-director of Blue Star Families’ applied research) and a spouse in the military, partners and spouses “often operate as a single parent,” she said.

With schools shutting down, the pandemic has intensified. There are children who attend school at home and don’t need to be cared for.

As a consequence, 42% of Covid-related spouses quit working and approximately half of all those employed before the pandemic were forced to cut their work hours.

It is predicted that the rate of spouse unemployment will be 5% this year. as high as 35%

Strong stated that they would never catch up to the long periods of unemployment.

Most of the responsibility falls on spouses (predominantly women).

Tara Falcone

ReisUp founder and certified financial advisor

Tara Falcone (a San Diego-based certified financial planner, and spouse to a military veteran), said that “Spouses,” which are mainly women, must shoulder the majority of the burden.

“The unfair burden on mothers,” she stated, “That’s something military spouses have had to juggle for a long while and it’s more obvious because of Covid.” 

Blue Star survey respondents cited remote work as an important factor. Because of the pandemic there are now more remote options than ever.

According to research, approximately two-thirds of all employers allow employees to telecommute for at least some part of the day. survey by consulting firm Mercer.

Not all workers can work remotely. There is a clear class divide between workers who can and cannot telework, studies show.

Strong explained that “a lot of military spouses have been working in healthcare or childcare, and there are more distant opportunities.”

The good news is that there are now more free programs to reskill military personnel remotely.

Nikki Paquette is a former Coast Guard Technician and team captain for military enrollments. career training healthcare

She said that the programs can be accessed online and are self-guided. This makes them especially attractive to military spouses. Other businesses, like Microsoft and Salesforce, offer free career-driven programs to military families.

Collis took several classes in information technology and was certified in cyber security and robotics. WithYouWithMe

The outreach coordinator for technology was her first job. Hiring our HeroesThe organization is specifically designed to connect service personnel, veterans, and spouses of military families with job opportunities.

Now Collis helps other spouses find employment while working remotely from her home outside of Washington, D.C. .   

It has been very rewarding to just be able contribute to the family and to find purpose. It’s even more rewarding to help others, she said.

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