Oak Grove, Ky. (February 13, 2020) – The good news for 2020 is that the economy is booming. The U.S. labor market added 225,000 jobs in January and wages climbed 3.1 percent from a year earlier.
Eric Winograd, senior economist at AllianceBernstein, told the Wall Street Journal that “the labor market and the consumer are the strength of the economy and they’re in good shape.”
The bad news for 2020 is one significant group of people continues to be left out of those gains: military spouses.
According to the Spouses Employment and Education 2017 Survey of Active Duty Spouses, military spouses face a 24 percent unemployment rate and a 25 percent wage gap compared to their civilian counterparts. The survey revealed that 77 percent of these spouses want or need work, but frequent relocation is often a barrier to finding and maintaining a rewarding career.
That’s both because employers are often unwilling to take a chance on a new employee who may move in a few months and because of the time it can take to find a new job with each re-location. The survey also found that unemployed spouses had been looking for work an average of 17 weeks (about four months). The average job-search process for civilians takes just over six weeks—43 days to be exact—according to Money.
Complicating the issue further, even if a spouse does find a new position after moving, it’s not enough to support the family. Forbes magazine recently reported that more than 31 percent of military spouses are working part-time even if they need or want full-time work.
It’s important to note that this is not just an economic or workforce issue. The Pentagon has said that the high military spouse unemployment rate “threatens force readiness” and our national security. Military spouses are serving our country by supporting their loved ones—and we must do more to support them.
These are among the many reasons Connected Nation (CN) brought Digital Works (DW) to the Fort Campbell area. The program was developed in 2013 to support people interested in remote, telework jobs by providing them with relevant skills, training, and placement services for high-demand jobs. CN works with 70-plus companies that are looking for individuals with specific skills to fill remote and in-demand positions and helps guide graduates through job placement.
This program works well for military spouses because many of the positions can move with them. They no longer have to find a new job each time their loved one is relocated.
In addition, CN recently learned that military spouses and veterans are ideally suited for telework and work-at-home jobs. Digital Works conducted a pilot program in the Fort Knox area, specifically focused on helping military spouses and veterans. Those classes had a 100 percent hiring rate with some graduates landing multiple positions.
Thanks to a contract with the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and additional funding from the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs and AT&T, Digital Works classes are now being offered in the Fort Campbell area at no charge to participants.
The first class began on Monday, Feb. 3, and will run for about four weeks. CN is already looking to fill additional classes for March and beyond. The facility is located right across from the front entrance of the post. To learn more or register for a class, head to www.digitalworksjobs.org and click on the Fort Campbell location.
Our staff believes everyone belongs in a Connected Nation, and that means we will work to ensure that no individual or family is left out of opportunities to improve their lives—that is especially true for our military spouses.
Chairman & CEO