Trump Signs Executive Order to Improve Military Spouse Employment

Trump Signs Executive Order to Improve Military Spouse Employment

Sgt. Tia Dufour/Marine Corps

About the Author

Gina Harkins is MOAA's Senior Digital Content Manager. She can be reached at ginah@moaa.org. Follow her on Twitter at: @ginaaharkins.

The White House is on a mission to end the disproportionate rate of military spouse under- and unemployment.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to help more spouses of active-duty and Reserve military personnel find work amid frequent permanent-change-of-station moves. The order promotes military spouse hiring across the federal government and encourages states to remove licensing barriers so those who work in professions like teaching, nursing, or law can get jobs no matter where they live, Trump said.

“The competence is so high, yet [employment] is so difficult,” he said. “That's not going to happen anymore.”

Military spouse unemployment is four times higher than the national average. Service members' spouses show immense dedication to the country, Trump said, but don't always get the recognition they deserve. Now it's time to repay them, he added.

“When you are strong, your families are strong and America thrives,” Trump said.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report this month highlighting some of the challenges facing the approximate 690,000 military spouses. Despite higher rates of college education and experience, military spouses lose an average of $189,614 over a 20-year career compared to civilian workers.

“Even among full-time, year-round workers, military spouses find themselves at a disadvantage, with wage and salary earnings 3.4 percent less than would be expected given their demographic characteristics,” the report states. “The broader earnings 'penalty' measure, 26.8 percent, amounts to $12,374 per year … in lost income.”

Last year, MOAA co-hosted an event at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, with Hiring Our Heroes to promote military spouse employment. Ivanka Trump, Trump's adviser, and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, attended along with hundreds of military spouses.

“Because of your commitment to the military, there will be more opportunity for military spouses who are looking for jobs in the federal government,” first lady Melania Trump told Ivanka Trump, Conway, and Karen Pence on Wednesday.

Trump said the federal government will set the example for the private sector to follow. He also wants to see agencies and corporations making better use of technology to keep military spouses employed as they move to new states or countries in support of their service member by allowing them to work remotely.

“Today we take one of many important actions to ensure that you are free to pursue your careers, support your families, and continue serving this nation,” Trump said.