In 2014 the unemployment rate for military spouses hit a mammoth 26 percent in comparison to a national rate of 7 percent. While the Department of Defense (DOD) claims to “recognize and appreciate the challenges and sacrifices of our military families”— its ability to provide a “broad spectrum of career opportunities” seems to be falling short. Several studies, including the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), found more than 46 percent of military spouses are either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with DOD-sponsored employee assistance programs. Many military spouses are imploring the private sector to pick up the slack. Right now some of the finest and most acute industries are answering this plea by committing their hiring processes to be military-spouse friendly through use of the Worker Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).
On April 20, 2010, US Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Military Spouse Employment Act legislation that expanded WOTC to include military families and encourage employers to hire qualified spouses. Using WOTC allows an employer to claim a tax credit of 40 percent of the first $6,000 in wages paid during the worker’s first year of employment.
The WOTC program provides an excellent investment beyond the credit itself. The program delivers some of the best and brightest employees to our industries and fills the patriotic heart of our economy.
Now, more than ever, it is imperative that human resources professionals understand the unique challenges military spouses face. With WOTC help, spouses can turn their diverse situations into great relief for their families and for the companies that employ them.
Military spouses offer invaluable qualities to the workforce. No one comes close to being more adaptable than a military spouse. Who better to deal with sudden work flow change than someone who is always prepared to uproot their family and move anywhere around the world? The personality of military spouses is professional by nature of living the military life. They maintain a positive attitude while remaining upbeat, trustworthy, selfless, focused and loyal. While military spouses fear their partner’s active-duty status scares off a potential employer who might be leery of investing in a short-term hire, managers should be assured that longevity is not an issue. With the average turnover rate of 12-18 months, the majority of military moves occur every 2-4 years and hiring managers should remain confident that spouses will be true during that time. Let’s not forget that spouses have experienced a lot. They come from all over the world, carry different strengths, backgrounds and opinions. Military spouses respond to stress remarkably well.
The dollar savings accrued by hiring military spouses through WOTC cannot be denied. In addition to the credit, what potential hire is more financially savvy than a military spouse? They can handle budgets and revise them, paying bills, and saving for unexpected, sudden turns in a plan no matter how big or small its size. “Frugality” is definitely their middle name and they can use–or even teach–these artful spending techniques to others in the workforce.
Another savings can be found in employee benefits, education and industry promotion. Military spouses have medical and dental covered under the military at a price that cannot be beat. This means employers won’t need to pay benefits for military spouses. In fact, as long as the money is right, these individuals can even work part-time because they do not require a typical benefit plan. Military spouses are typically well-educated with many holding at least one college degree or license.
Via the Military Spouse Job Continuity Act of 2013, company’s who re-license those who have been redeployed to another state under a permanent station change can receive a tax credit for up to $500 of qualified re-licensing costs. Spouses have training outside their education afforded to them by military volunteering in areas like education, public speaking, resiliency and financial management.
Military spouses have an extensive network that they leverage when they’re job hunting. Talk about an easy brand building activity?! Any company would be crazy not to embrace the opportunity to extend their brand through the military community. Military spouses know people from all disciplines, industries and geographic areas. They ask each other where the good jobs are and which companies are the most military-family friendly. Why not leverage the public relations found through a group of world-class individuals touting about your business and its practices!?!
Helping military spouses and American industry by using the WOTC creates a forward momentum that essentially strengthens America. Now that’s one heck of a tax credit!