GAO: Nearly One-Third of Working Military Spouses Have Part-Time Jobs

GAO: Nearly One-Third of Working Military Spouses Have Part-Time Jobs
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About 88,000 of the 270,000 working military spouses hold part-time employment, according to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report – a higher percentage (32%) than the civilian population (19%), and a potential retention issue for the all-volunteer force.


While some spouses may seek this level of employment “because it allows them to better balance work with caregiving or other responsibilities,” the report states, “… managing military life and limited or unsatisfactory employment options could create additional stress for military spouses and families. This could, in turn, affect military families’ decisions about whether the service member remains in the military.”


The study included discussion groups with 17 military spouses working part-time jobs, many of whom explained the military lifestyle left them little choice in the matter.


[RELATED: MOAA-Backed Bill Would Require DoD Study of Maternity Care Access]


“I would like to be working full time; I have worked full time. But child care is the major limiting factor,” one spouse said. “And it’s not just access to safe and affordable child care. When my spouse is on temporary duty assignment, like right now, I am in single-parent mode. There is no backup…I do not have family nearby.”


Other spouses pointed to frequent military moves creating challenges for full-time employment – not just forcing frequent relocations away from an employer, but requiring enough preparation time on a regular basis to make a full-time job impractical.


Not surprisingly, spouses unwillingly working in part-time positions found themselves underpaid, lacking in retirement benefits, stuck with jobs outside their chosen field, and spending much of their free time seeking full-time employment that would accommodate their schedules, the report found.


[RELATED: Bill Would Expand Mental Health Care for Pregnant Troops, New Military Moms]


How MOAA Works to Help Spouses

MOAA’s ongoing advocacy work with the 118th Congress includes several pieces of legislation which would support the employment goals of military spouses:

  • The Military Spouse Hiring Act (H.R. 1277 | S. 596) would establish military spouses as a target group under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, a way to reward businesses for accessing this untapped talent pool. (Learn More | Write Your Lawmakers)
  • The READINESS Act (H.R. 6462 | S. 3530) would offer increased job flexibility to the spouses of servicemembers and Foreign Service officers who work in the federal government. (Learn More | Write Your Lawmakers)
  • The BAH Restoration Act (H.R. 2537 | S. 1823) does not directly affect spouse employment, but it would restore the Basic Allowance for Housing for servicemembers to cover 100% of housing and utility costs, allowing military families – especially junior enlisted families – a more flexible budget to address child care or other concerns that could keep spouses from pursuing their chosen career path. (Learn More | Write Your Lawmakers)


[RELATED: TRICARE For Life, Star Act, Housing Help Will Anchor MOAA’s Spring Advocacy Push]


MOAA also offers many of its career and transition resources to military spouses, including access to job fairs, career webinars, and many more programs. Learn more about these offerings at


Support Military Spouses

Donate to The MOAA Foundation and support MOAA’s efforts to help military spouses in their career journeys.

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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and Follow him on X: @KRLilley