New Report Cites 'Staggering' Lack of Jobs for Military Spouses in San Antonio

click to enlarge FLICKR / THE NATIONAL GUARD
Flickr / The National Guard
A new report outlines "staggering" unemployment and underemployment rates among military spouses, specifically citing the difficulties faced by those in San Antonio.

The unemployment problem is especially profound in the Alamo City due to the size and density of its military population and the limited job opportunities available to spouses on or near Fort Sam Houston, according to the report by the Deloitte Center for Government Insights.

By Deloitte's count, 24% of all military spouses are unemployed. What's more, as many as 51% of military spouses report being underemployed.

The report notes that San Antonio has the seventh-largest military-connected population, making jobs available near Fort Sam Houston highly competitive. Of the spouses who live on or near the largest bases, 44% are in labor markets with fewer available positions than there are job seekers.

The report also shows that many of the jobs available to San Antonio-area spouses are in the IT and knowledge-services industries. As a result, job openings near Fort Sam are more likely to require four-year degrees than in other parts of the country.

The data suggest that federal funds spent on programs to support military spouses are more effective in areas that typically have no shortage of job openings, such as Washington DC, or the Pacific Northwest, according to the report.

In a labor market such San Antonio, the Defense Department's "one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t let spouses realize their full professional potential. Their problems finding work even comes as the federal government spends hundreds of millions annually on military spouse education.

“Many existing programs focus on connecting spouses with existing employment opportunities," Patrick Kirk, Specialist Leader with Deloitte Consulting LLP and US Army veteran, told the Current via email.

Kirk said the Defense Department should promote efforts to make licenses and certifications portable across state lines and "embrace the reality that it’s more important how work gets done than where work gets done."

He added: "A tight labor market like San Antonio may need more targeted programs to help create opportunities for military spouses, such as those that support entrepreneurship."

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