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Tax credit proposed to encourage employers to hire more military spouses

12% of the nation's 479,000 military spouses are unemployed, seeking work, and not getting it.

NORFOLK, Va. — Frequent moves and constant relocations are a fact of life for military families.

But, they make it hard for military spouses to get a job.

Numerous studies show that military spouses' unemployment rate is roughly three times the national joblessness average.

Some 12% of the nation's roughly 479,000 military spouses are unemployed and actively seeking work, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

 According to a recent Blue Star Families survey, 43% of active-duty families said spousal unemployment is an issue for them.

Spouses told Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine Wednesday they have faced employment discrimination.

"Your spouse's active duty status is enough for them to discriminate against them and say, 'Yes, no, you're not worthy of bringing on full-time,'" said Navy spouse Amy Rodriguez.

Kaine and Sen. John Boozman (R- Arkansas) introduced new legislation to help reduce military spouse unemployment.

The "Military Spouse Hiring Act"  proposes to amend the tax code to incentivize businesses to hire military spouses.

The legislation would expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program, which encourages employers to hire individuals who experience unique employment barriers, like military spouses.

"Employers have said this to me, and they've acknowledged, 'I'd hire more military spouses, but if they're going to get transferred in 18 months, then I will lean the other direction,'" said Kaine.

Asked if this bill would will encourage employers to do the right thing, Kaine said, "Well, you'd hope."

Sultan Camp is director of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council Veterans Employment Centers. He said the new tax credit would be "a phenomenal thing."

"There are other employers that use the veteran tax credit as an incentive, almost like a referral bonus to hire other veterans. So this is a prime example of creating the same referral chain for military spouses," Camp said.

The Military Spouse Hiring Act is supported by 28 military associations from every branch of service.

Kaine and Sen Patty Murray (D-Washington) also sponsored a bill that would triple child care subsidies for families and for efforts to increase the supply and quality of child care.

The measure would also improve child care workers' wages.

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