Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jobs for Military Spouses - We Need Better Data

Worrying about the active-duty
spouse's survival should be enough
without financial stress as well.
Employment of Military Spouses -- Why We Need to Know

Spouses of military on active duty are likely to have trouble obtaining and keeping jobs for at least three reasons:

1. A lack of private-sector depth around military bases, which tend to be located where land is less expensive.
2. Uncertainty of the length of time the family will be at the base.
3. The problems of child care when the active-duty spouse is posted abroad or even in a different part of the United States.

So military spouses have difficulty finding and holding on to a job for reasons that are related to the unpredictability of the active-duty partner have implications for the importance of child-care availability on military bases and also for decisions about appropriate pay levels for military personnel when it is likely that the spouse will be unable to earn a second income.

Don't forget Army Dads -- some who serve
are women, and their spouses care for the kids.
Similarly, spouses of veterans have difficulties upon the discharge of the active-duty partner because re-entering civilian life may be a major adjustment for both partners. The military services try to help active-duty personnel look for work. Since family income depends on both parents, what are the obstacles to veterans and their spouses finding work? Answering this question in some detail is important for the development of policies for helping military families after the person on active duty is discharged.

Data on the Job Status of Spouses of Active-Duty Personnel and Veterans Are Not Current

Up-to-date monthly information on unemployment is collected for the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Census Bureau through a sample, the Current Population Survey, which covers only 70,000 civilian households. Only veterans are included, not active-duty personnel. Some military spouses are included in the sample -- but they are a small and unrepresentative sample because military spouses on bases in the United States and overseas are not included.

The best thank-you is help making
it work economically.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces estimates of veteran employment, but not active-duty employment.

For this reason, labor force data on military spouses tend to be one-shot studies that are only briefly up to date.Information that is available on employment of military spouses comes from three main sources:

1. Active-Duty Surveys by the DoD. Surveys by the DoD cover only spouses of active-duty service members. Examples: Military Family Life Project, the Status of Forces Survey of Active-Duty Members, and the Survey of Active Duty Spouses. DoD's most recent summary of such data can be found in the Active Duty Families section (pp. 113-34) of the 2011 Demographics Report

2.  The VA's National Survey of Veterans (NSV). The most recent NSV Report is for 2010. See the Veteran Spouses, Active Duty Spouses, and Surviving Spouses section (pp. 279-309) of the report for spouse employment data. The VA collects data primarily on spouses of veterans. 

3. BLS and Census Data. The Current Population Survey (CPS) includes unemployment data collected by the Census Bureau on behalf of the Bureau of Labor Statistics - but it is a sample of about 70,000 households nationally and excludes representation of active-duty personnel, focused only on civilians, who of course include veterans; in recent years veterans have been separately identified by period of service. The American Community Survey (ACS), also conducted by the Census Bureau, updates the centennial Census and is more comprehensive, including active-duty personnel as well as veterans. But no government agency routinely publishes national estimates of military spouse employment based on either the CPS or ACS.

Filling the Gap 

The MOAA has stepped in to the 
vacuum and is doing its own survey.
Private researchers in theory could potentially fill in the gap through interpolation with estimates based on multiple databases and sampling of data within existing surveys. To our knowledge only the RAND Corporation has made attempts in this direction - most recently in a 2012 Occasional Paper. Also of interest is RAND's 2010 report Measuring Underemployment Among Military Spouses, which compares active duty spouses to their civilian counterparts.

There is an opportunity here for new research. The objective would be to develop an estimating algorithm that would permit the generation of monthly data.

(This blogpost was developed from a memo on the topic by Alex Hecht.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Unemployment Fell in September for Female Vets, But Not Male Vets

During the last year - higher rate of
unemployment of male vets.
Based on data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning, as of September more jobs are being found by male veterans who did not serve in wartime. Also by male non-veterans.

But those who served in wartime are not having such luck. Their unemployment rates during the last year ending in September have been rising for every period of service.

The good news is that the level of unemployment is lower among male vets than the non-veteran population, although (1) this is not true for the youngest vets, the Gulf War II cohort, and (2) some part of the explanation is not such good news, i.e., the portion of veterans whose service-related disabilities have forced them out of the labor force.

During the past year, the unemployment rate of wartime male veterans has increased for every period of service. It has declined from 6 percent to 5.1 percent for male veterans of non-wartime service. It has also declined for non-veterans.

Unemployment Rate % - Men Vets by Service
vs. Non-Vets (BLS Table A-5)
Source: BLS Household Survey for September 2013, released October 22, 2013.

Women vets from both Gulf Wars, and
those who did not serve in wartime, and
non-veteran women, have all been finding
more jobs during the last year. Older women vets
have not.
Female veterans below a certain age are faring much better. For those who served in either of the two Gulf War period, their unemployment rates have come down substantially during the past year. Those who served in Gulf War I are particularly fortunate, with an unemployment rate that fell from 19.9 percent to 11.6 percent. The improvement is also true for women vets who did not serve in wartime, and for non-veterans.

However, older women vets who served in WWII or the Korean or Vietnam wars have not seen the same improvement in their job-seeking success. Their unemployment rate rose slightly.

Unemployment Rate % - Women Vets by Service 
vs. Non-Vets (BLS Table A-5)
Source: BLS Household Survey for September 2013, released October 22, 2013.

Monday, October 14, 2013

War Tourism to France Likely to Spike in June 2014 - D-Day + 70

Laval, France 2011. Relatives of fallen WWII air crews shot
down during week of D-Day invasion. Visits will intensity 
in 2014, the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. I am third from right.
Next year will be the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Families of those who gave their lives in France before and after D-Day have been visiting the graves of their fallen warriors in a the last few years.

This form of travel from the United States to France is likely to spike in 2014. We could call it Warrior Tourism, i.e., relatives' visiting sites where American warriors died or fought in World War II.

Generic War Tourism is simply visiting battle sites and fortifications.

I have written about my own visit to Laval two years ago with more than a dozen relatives of crew members of two Halifax bombers that were shot down near Laval. My mother's brother Willem van Stockum was the flying captain of one of these two planes.

Not only will next year be the 70th anniversary of D-Day, but a four-foot-high sandstone monument is scheduled for unveiling at that time. From my family and friends I already know of a dozen people who expect to be attending.

Drs. Rex and Deborah Henderson, flanked
by Jean-Louis Cholet (L) and Jean-Luc Peslier.
Rex and Deborah Henderson, an Australian couple, visited in 2013 because they had been unable to make the visit in 2012. They live in Subiaco, northwest of Australia and they regularly visit Ireland. Rex is a pediatrician, Deborah works in cancer research.

They were guided to the place where Rex's father crashed - the bridge Alain - by Jean-Louis Cholet, head of the French Remembrance Mayenne and Jean-Luc Peslier president of the AMAA, a local aviators' association.

"I came twice in Laval but I had never saw the crash. Merci! I will remember their graves should bloom each May 8, to keep alive the memory of their faithfulness, " says Rex Henderson.

After bombing the aviation field Laval, the planes were hit four times by the German anti-aircraft gunners. Thomas Henderson, the pilot (27 years old) managed to drop his bombs through the wood door frame and attempted to make an emergency landing at Pont-Alain Road, Ahuillé, Saint-Berthevin. But the crash was inevitable. The eight crew members died. Their bodies lie at the military section of the Royal Air Force Cemetery Vaufleury Laval.

The sandstone monument, it is the brainchild of Jean-Louis Cholet who in 2009 installed such a monument . in the military square Vaufleury. to honor soldiers of the 1914-18 War buried in family tombs.

In partnership with the City of Laval, the French Remembrance (Souvenir Francais) decided to erect a monument with their names at the entrance to the military section. It has 29 names, including those of a woman and a man sitting in the ossuary. Its cost was  € 3,800 shared 50 percent by the City of Laval and 50 percent by the French Remembrance. During WWI, 13,192 Mayenne residents were killed during the Great War out of a provincial population of 297,770 inhabitants.

The Mayenne Association for the Air Force (AMAA) is working with Cholet on the monument to the two fallen crews.