By Jim Malewitz, Stateline Staff Writer
Governor Bev Perdue signed into law Tuesday (July 24) legislation aimed at helping military spouses land jobs after they arrive at North Carolina military bases, continuing a trend in statehouses to reduce barriers of entry into the workforce for military spouses across the U.S.
Under the law, military spouses trained in jobs that require professional licenses or certification, such as school teachers, registered nurses or childcare professionals, will receive licenses to work in North Carolina, as long as they hold a license in a state with equal or more rigorous standards.
“This bill helps streamline the procedures, so military spouses in North Carolina can get the certification they need to work,” Perdue said in a statement. “We owe it to them, to provide this kind of support.”
North Carolina became the ninth state this year to enact a law addressing the issue, bringing the total number of states to 20, according to legislative tracking by the Military Officers Association of America.
The North Carolina also laws allows former soldiers and other personnel trained in professional fields to use their military certifications as civilians, provided that their training meets state standards.
Military families, which frequently hop from one state to another, say they are burdened by state-by-state licensing requirements that can prove costly and take months to fulfill after each move.
Nearly 35 percent of military spouses in the labor force — more than 100,000 in all — require licenses or certification to work, and the unemployment rate of military spouses over the past five years is close to twice the civilian rate, according to a study released in February by the White House. That’s despite the fact that military spouses receive college degrees at higher rates than civilians.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden have taken up the issue this year, urging state lawmakers to relax licensing requirements for the group. The women say they aim to pass legislation in all 50 states by 2014.