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NEWS RELEASE - State listens to, then amplifies military spouse's difficulties in finding good jobs

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Jan. 7, 2020

Employment Security Department
#20-002

Contact: Nick Demerice, Public Affairs Director, 360-902-9289

State listens to, then amplifies military spouse's difficulties in finding good jobs

“I considered leaving the military because my wife couldn’t pursue her career.”
~ A testimonial from a Washington-based naval petty officer

OLYMPIA – Lack of childcare and employer bias are the top issues among many stopping military spouses from achieving more successful careers, according to a report released today by the Washington departments of Veterans Affairs and Employment Security.

The report is the result of input and insights gathered during a statewide listening tour of Washington’s six major military installations. The tour also provided first hand accounts that a spouse’s employment satisfaction directly impacts a service member’s decision to stay in the military.

“The fact that we risk losing service members due to the lack of opportunity for their spouses makes this a national security issue. These spouses are sacrificing for their country alongside their partners and they deserve our attention,” said WDVA director Alfie Alvarado-Ramos.

Despite it being a time of historically low unemployment, military spouses still face significant barriers to success in their careers. Active-duty spouses have a 24 percent unemployment rate. Further, 56 percent of military spouses report being underemployed, and military spouses earn 27 percent less on average than their non-military spouse peers.

ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine said, “We can and must do better for our military families. This is the very definition of a win-win opportunity: We get to support those serving our country with the dignity of work while businesses get dedicated and talented employees.”

Session attendees identified and discussed multiple challenges faced by military spouses and ideas for improvement. The issues and recommendations from participants were grouped into four categories in the report:

Employer relationships and bias;
Job-search support;
Credential portability; and
Childcare.

This work is the result of an Executive Order signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in May of 2019, which extended Washington state’s support for veterans and transitioning service members to include military families.

The recommendations from listening session participants will be forwarded to policymakers at the local, state and federal level for their consideration.

Find the complete report and all supporting materials, including recommendations and links to the session videos, on the www.dva.wa.gov/militaryfamilies website.