The Federal Hiring Freeze, PCS Season and Family Finances

| March 10, 2017

Just because the federal hiring freeze only applies to civilian employees doesn’t mean that military families are immune from its effects. Many military spouses work on-base in civilian positions. When a service member receives notice of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) that typically means his or her spouse will start the job search at their new location. But with the federal hiring freeze, it may be impossible for the spouse to secure a job at the new location, and will subsequently have to look outside of the federal government for new employment.

This won’t make for an easy transition, especially considering that 43 percent of military families surveyed* are expecting to PCS this summer. A large majority of these families indicated they were at least somewhat confident in their financial preparedness for the move. However, this survey was given in late January at about the time President Trump announced the hiring freeze and therefore may not fully reflect current sentiment. Forty-four percent of these families expect to spend at least $1,000 on the move, with one quarter of this group expecting to spend more than $2,500. That’s a lot of money to spend if you are not ensured of a new job, and don’t even have a job prospect(s), upon arrival at your new station.

A second survey revealed that 93 percent of military spouses expressed the desire to work to help support their families. Seventy-one percent said that frequent relocations make it difficult to find and keep employment. This will certainly be exacerbated by the hiring freeze. With 93 percent of spouses surveyed currently employed (79 percent employed full time), the combination of a hiring freeze and PCS season could put undue financial pressures on military families during a time that can already be stressful.

*Commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000 surveyed via the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.

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