Army Recruiting At Record High

By Staff
October 14, 2009

The Pentagon announced yesterday that the U.S. military has met all of its annual recruiting goals for the first time in more than 35 years--a direct consequence of rising unemployment and the economic downturn.

The recession "was a force," noted Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy, who was quoted by The Washington Post. He said that "given the unemployment that we had not directly forecast, [the recession] allowed us to be for much of the year in a very favorable position."

The Defense Department recruited 168,900 active troops this year--103 percent of the goal for the fiscal year--despite the fact that those who join the Army will likely go to war. It also reached 104 percent of the goal for recruitment of National Guard and reserve forces.

In addition, the number of recruits with high school diplomas stood at about 95 percent, topping last year's 83 percent figure which fell short of the 90 percent goal. In the past, the Army typically struggled to fill its ranks and admitted high school dropouts, overweight youths and felons.

But this year, thousands of quality recruits were attracted to the Army's stable work and wages. "Try something new, get something with a little more stability, a lot more security--not only for themselves but their family--with the benefits and all," explained Sgt. Carlos Hernandez, an Army recruiter quoted by Fox 5 in Las Vegas.

Ahlana Balcar, who enlisted in the Army, agreed that job security played a role in her decision. "My family owns restaurants," she explained. "I've been working with them, and with the economy falling, I've noticed how much more of a struggle it is for us, and it did factor in how I need to step up."

Army Times reports that a direct correlation exists between the economy and the quality of recruits. John Warner and Curtis Simon of Clemson University in South Carolina estimated that a 10 percent increase in the unemployment rate results in a 3 to 4 percent increase in high-quality enlistments. Another study suggested a 5 percent increase.

Carr also credited increased enlistment bonuses with the military's successful recruitment efforts: About 40 percent of recruits received an average bonus of $14,000, compared to the average of $12,000 last year.

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