Accession Number:



Military Spouse Employment

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Congressional Report]

Corporate Author:

Congressional Research Service

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Congress has constitutional authority over the armed forces, including the power to to raise and support Armies, to provide and maintain a Navy, and to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces. Congress is thus responsible for legislating military pay and benefits, establishing personnel policies, and overseeing the implementation of Department of Defense DOD family programs. Military servicemembers and their families live and work in every state in the union, as well as in foreign nations, and military spouses and spouse advocacy groups make up a large and vocal constituency. Servicemembers are often subject to change-of-station moves between U.S. states or overseas, which often means uprooting family members from their jobs, schools, and professional and social networks. In addition, servicemembers may be called on for deployments, travel, and atypical work schedules that can complicate spouses ability to maintain full employment particularly for those with children at home. Studies have found that while military spouses have similar or higher labor participation rates to civilian counterparts, they tend to have higher unemployment and underemployment than their non-military connected counterparts. They also have challenges qualifying for job-related benefits like career development opportunities and vesting of employer contributions to retirement funds. This can lead to lower lifetime earnings, and inhibit wealth accrual for the family. From the federal governments perspective, higher employment rates among military spouses can have a positive economic impact and contribute to economic growth. When military spouses are able to build a successful career, it can also bolster a familys financial stability during the time when a servicemember transitions out of the military into civilian employment.

Subject Categories:

  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Sociology and Law

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]