The Hidden Financial Costs of Military Spouse Unemployment


Military spouses have long faced employment challenges, with an unwavering unemployment rate of 22% to an estimated increase to 38% due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one study. Not only does this create near-term economic challenges for military spouses and their families, but the impacts of unemployment are often cumulative, resulting in their inability to plan for, save for, and be ready for retirement.

This report draws insight from over 4,100 active duty, veteran, retired, National Guard, and Reserve spouse respondents to identify how their employment experiences, specifically unemployment, impact their long-term financial futures. It also provides actionable recommendations for employers, support organizations, and policymakers to create economic opportunities for military spouses and address the long-term hidden financial costs of military spouse unemployment and underemployment.

Key Findings include:

  • Having two incomes is critical, yet finding employment at their experience and/or education level remains elusive for most military spouses.
  • The lack of two incomes creates considerable uncertainty related to retirement.
  • Access to employer-sponsored retirement benefits improves a military spouse’s outlook on retirement if their benefits vest.
  • Many respondents do not feel comfortable managing their retirement accounts.


Read the Research

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