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Written by: Kristen Jowers, M.S.

According to the Office of People Analytics (2023), and the 2021 Active Duty Spouse Survey briefing, military spouses have an unemployment rate of 21%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023) indicates that the national unemployment average for the general population is 3.6%. Factors such as PCSing, living on base, and having children at home are all factors that may increase unemployment for military spouses (Office of People Analytics, 2023). 

Military spouse unemployment may impact a family’s experience of food and nutrition security. According to the 2020 Status of Force Active-Duty Survey, food insecurity is experienced by 46% of enlisted members with unemployed spouses and no children and by 41% of active duty members with unemployed spouses and no children. This number is 17% higher than the 24% of all active-duty military families experiencing food insecurity, indicating the significance of military spouse employment to military family well-being.  

Family service providers can incorporate an assessment of a family’s food security status and explore intentional ways to support military spouses in their service network. Here are five strategies to support military spouses in their job search:

  1. Networking: Encourage military spouses to expand their professional network by attending job fairs, joining industry-related associations or organizations, and connecting with other military spouses who have employment. Experienced military spouses can provide guidance and share job search strategies, industry insights, and help build professional networks.
  2. Remote and Flexible Work Options: Encourage military spouses to explore job openings that offer flexible work arrangements, including teleworking or flexible scheduling. Remote work can provide greater flexibility when dealing with military relocations.
  3. Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP): Encourage military spouses to explore the MSEP program, which connects military spouses with employers committed to hiring them. 
  4. Financial Assistance: Inform military spouses about potential financial assistance programs available to support their education or training, such as the Military Spouse Career Advancement Account (MyCAA) program.
  5. Career Coaching: Connect military spouses with a career coach through the Department of Defense Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO), including those specializing in career transitions, working overseas, freelancing, and other industry-specific career coaching. Call 800-342-9647 or visit Military OneSource to sign up.

“Meaningful employment of military spouses relates directly to family satisfaction within the military and overall force readiness” (Owen, 2023, paragraph 1). Remember, each military spouse’s situation is unique, and personalized support and guidance are crucial. Expand your knowledge of Spouse Employment and Family Financial Readiness to identify the military, employer, and family-related employment challenges that military spouses encounter. Additionally, the on-demand webinar offers free CEUs for financial professionals while exploring the SECO program’s role in providing military spouses with access to education and career guidance, comprehensive resources, and tools to assist them in overcoming these challenges. 


Bureau of Labor Statistics. (June 2, 2023). News release. 

Office of People Analytics. (2022). Food security of active duty members.

Office of People Analytics. (2023). 2021 Active Duty Spouse Survey (ADSS). 

Owen, C. (Feb. 22, 2023). Expanding military spouse employment opportunities through fellowship program pilot. OneOp.

Photo Credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

Food Security in Focus

2023 MFRA logo wheat icon in front of a blue starTake advantage of OneOp’s Food Security in Focus collection, offering live and on-demand programming related to food security. 

Among our nation’s active-duty service members and their families, an estimated 24 percent are food insecure. Food insecurity adversely impacts racial/ethnic minority populations, lower-income populations, and rural and remote populations. Additionally, a rise in economic insecurity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increased food insecurity in vulnerable populations. Join OneOp as we focus on expanding food security for the military family and mobilizing family service professionals at federal, state, and local levels to work together on this issue.

Food Security in Focus