Economy Driving Army Recruiting

By Staff

April 21, 2009

The economic downturn has triggered a surge of Army recruits as more seek job stability and help paying for college.

The Silver City Sun-News in New Mexico reports that the Army Recruiting Station in Las Cruces is noticing a significant increase in the number of people inquiring about military service.

"A lot of people see what the Army has to offer and they're telling us that's an exciting job," explained First Sgt. Juan Vasquez, who oversees Army recruitment in the area. "It's a guaranteed job, which is pretty hard to find these days with the economy being what it is."

Lionel Marquez, who will receive his degree in engineering at New Mexico State University next month, noted that more students are seriously considering military careers.

"It's no big secret that the job market for college graduates has kept shrinking for the past seven, eight years at least," he remarked. "It used to be that the military was a last resort for a job after college, but it's not that way anymore."

The Billings Gazette in Montana reports that Army recruiters are seeing an increase in inquiries from college graduates and others who have recently joined the workforce.

"We're seeing people who have been out of high school a year or two and they've kind of tested the waters and found there isn't much out there," said Sgt. Scott Powers, an Air Force recruiter.

The military's help with college costs is also a powerful incentive for young recruits. Navy Counselor 1st Class Wesley Spinler pointed out that recruits can receive up to $80,000 towards their college education, and that opportunities exist for earning degrees while in the service.

In Ohio, reports that older applicants, single parents and people with several children are inquiring about military careers. But recruiters are forced to turn them away, since government standards exclude anyone over age 28 or with more than one child. Single parents also generally don't match military enlistment standards.

In a related article, The Washington Post reports that as a result of the increased interest in military service, the Army has become more selective about its recruits. Last month, the Army stopped accepting felons and recent drug abusers, and it expects that this year at least 90 percent of its recruits will have high school diplomas-a goal that has not been met since 2004.

According to Curtis Gilroy, the Pentagon's top recruiting official, improved security in Iraq has helped spur increased recruitment. But he credits the higher level of recruits to the economic downturn most of all, which has increased unemployment and reduced job opportunities-making the Army look like a very good place to work indeed.

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