Cover: Evaluation of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Program

Evaluation of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership Program

Report on the Second Stage of Analysis

Published Jul 21, 2021

by Marek N. Posard, Gabriella C. Gonzalez, Luke J. Matthews, Karen Christianson, Jamie L. Ryan, Shirley M. Ross, Irineo Cabreros

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Research Questions

  1. How well does MSEP's Career Portal address unemployment and underemployment among military spouses?
  2. Are the positions available via the Career Portal geographically suitable for military spouses? Do they lend themselves to telecommuting?
  3. Do the available positions match well with military spouses' levels of education and experience?

Previous research has found that, compared with their civilian counterparts, military spouses are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed. This work is the second phase of a two-phase study to evaluate data on the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) program for the Military Community and Family Policy (MCFP) office.

The authors conducted a new query of job postings in 2016 from the online MSEP Career Portal to analyze the types of jobs that employers were posting on this portal and compared the geographic distribution of these jobs with the locations of spouses. Next, the authors conducted interviews with employers in 2016 who post these jobs on the portal and fielded a survey of spouses in 2019 who had recently used the MSEP Career Portal. Finally, they interviewed a subsample of these respondents in 2019 over the phone.

Results showed that the MSEP Career Portal lists a range of jobs, but a limited percentage of them are telecommuting positions, which are often desirable for military spouses, and there are more jobs in the Northeast than in the other regions, which are home to more military spouses. The employers interviewed expressed a desire for more and better communication among MSEP stakeholders, and the spouses surveyed expressed some dissatisfaction with the quality of jobs available via the portal.

The authors recommend that MCFP attend to increasing the number of jobs on the MSEP Career Portal that would be of interest to military spouses within their specific labor markets.

Key Findings

  • The MSEP Career Portal lists a range of jobs, but a limited percentage of them are telecommuting positions.
  • More jobs on this portal are in the Northeast region of the United States than in other regions, despite the high percentage of spouses who live in these regions.
  • Interviews with some employer partners who post these jobs suggested a need for improvements in communication between key stakeholders, including military spouse applicants, employees, partnering organizations, employers, and MCFP.
  • The survey and phone interviews of military spouses suggested that some were unsatisfied with the quality of job postings.


  • Increase targeted outreach to employer partners who offer telecommuting positions of interest to military spouses.
  • Increase targeted outreach to employer partners (of interest to military spouses) that have offices in the Midwest, South, and West.
  • Improve communication with key stakeholders involved with the military spouse employment search.
  • Promote a diverse range of employment-related search engines to military spouses.
  • Increase the number of relevant jobs of interest to military spouses posted on the MSEP Career Portal.

This research was sponsored by the Office of the DASD for Military Community and Family Policy and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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