Military Recruitment 2010

May 5, 2011 - Notes and Sources

After the worst recession since the Great Depression, unemployment in the United States remains high. Army recruiters have credited the weak economy with a rise in recruitment numbers for years. Not only did the Army meet its recruitment goals for Fiscal Year 2012, in its analysis of FY2010 accessions to the U.S. Army, National Priorities Project (NPP) finds great gains in terms of recruit quality, particularly with respect to the educational attainment of recruits.

The Army reported a goal for FY2010 of 74,500 active Army recruits and maintained that goal throughout the year. In October 2010, they said that the goal was met with 74,577 recruits.1 Why do given Army numbers differ from those analyzed by NPP? First, the Army reports numbers of “contracts” rather than “accessions;” that is, the Army provides the number of recruits who signed a contract agreeing to join, while NPP looks at the number of recruits who arrive at boot camp or “accede.” Second, the data in this report is non-prior service recruits only, which is defined as a recruit who has not served in the armed forces for more than 180 days previously. Third, the Army counts individuals who sign a contract agreeing to deploy later (known as the Delayed Entry Program or DEP) when they sign the contract, while NPP's data would capture these recruits when they report for basic training.

Recruit Demographics

Of the 70,026 recruits in FY2010, 1,111 came from U.S. Possessions and Territories, including the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and foreign addresses, including military postal addresses. The vast majority of recruits come from the United States, 68,915 this year. For some parts of our analysis, we use zip-code level data from the U.S. Census Bureau to give us a better idea of recruits’ backgrounds. About 1 percent of recruits report zip codes that are inconsistent with their reported hometowns. When we use Census data, we therefore restrict our analysis to the 68,129 recruits for whom we have consistent data.

Military Recruitment Count by County

Rank State County No. FY 2010 Recruits
1 California Los Angeles County 1437
2 Arizona Maricopa County 1043
3 Texas Harris County 907
4 California San Diego County 719
5 Texas Bexar County 676
6 California San Bernardino County 653
7 Illinois Cook County 649
8 California Riverside County 623
9 California Orange County 535
10 Texas Dallas County 522
11 Texas Tarrant County 492
12 Florida Miami-Dade County 489
13 Nevada Clark County 461
14 Florida Broward County 427
15 Florida Hillsborough County 416
16 California Sacramento County 408
17 Florida Orange County 392
18 North Carolina Cumberland County 377
19 Texas El Paso County 306
20 Washington Pierce County 305
21 New York Kings County 291
22 Arizona Pima County 288
23 Colorado El Paso County 287
24 Florida Duval County 287
25 Florida Pinellas County 253
26 Texas Bell County 250
27 California Santa Clara County 245
28 Michigan Wayne County 245
29 Hawaii Honolulu County 239
30 Washington King County 239
31 New York Queens County 238
32 South Carolina Richland County 237
33 New York Bronx County 237
34 Ohio Franklin County 234
35 Florida Palm Beach County 226
36 Florida Brevard County 217
37 Texas Travis County 209
38 Texas Denton County 205
39 Georgia Fulton County 205
40 California Fresno County 205
41 North Carolina Mecklenburg County 204
42 Florida Volusia County 202
43 Massachusetts Middlesex County 201
44 North Carolina Wake County 192
45 Utah Salt Lake County 192
46 California San Joaquin County 187
47 California Alameda County 187
48 California Kern County 185
49 Michigan Oakland County 181
50 Texas Collin County 179
51 Florida Lee County 178
52 Virginia Fairfax County 178
53 Tennessee Shelby County 176
54 Georgia Gwinnett County 173
55 Pennsylvania Allegheny County 172
56 Maryland Prince George's County 170
57 New York Suffolk County 170
58 Oklahoma Oklahoma County 169
59 Georgia Cobb County 168
60 Virginia Virginia Beach city 164
61 Pennsylvania Philadelphia County 163
62 Georgia Muscogee County 161
63 Georgia DeKalb County 160
64 New York Erie County 158
65 Indiana Clay County 154
66 Missouri St. Louis County 153
67 Ohio Cuyahoga County 152
68 Michigan Macomb County 151
69 Alabama Jefferson County 150
70 Florida Polk County 149
71 Washington Snohomish County 149
72 California Contra Costa County 149
73 California Stanislaus County 147
74 Wisconsin Milwaukee County 147
75 Florida Pasco County 146
76 Missouri Jackson County 146
77 Ohio Montgomery County 145
78 New Mexico Bernalillo County 145
79 Texas Cameron County 144
80 Texas Montgomery County 143
81 California Ventura County 143
82 Connecticut New Haven County 142
83 Oklahoma Tulsa County 140
84 North Carolina Guilford County 137
85 Illinois Lake County 136
86 Illinois DuPage County 136
87 Washington Clark County 135
88 Maryland Montgomery County 135
89 Florida Seminole County 132
90 Tennessee Montgomery County 131
91 Nevada Washoe County 131
92 Texas Hidalgo County 131
93 Georgia Richmond County 130
94 Oregon Multnomah County 128
95 Alabama Madison County 124
96 Texas Williamson County 124
97 Alabama Mobile County 124
98 Maryland Anne Arundel County 124
99 Idaho Ada County 123
100 Colorado Jefferson County 122

 

This year's recruit pool was slightly more male, younger, and more racially diverse than last year. Note that Hispanic is considered an ethnicity and not a race by both the U.S. Army and the Census Bureau. An individual may belong to both an ethnic and a racial group, which leads to overlap among those who identify as Hispanic and black, Asian, white, or Native. 

 

Military Recruitment - Demographics by Year

Year Race Ethnicity Age (yrs) Sex
Black White Asian/PI Native Other Hispanic Male Female
FY05 15.0% 80.4% 3.4% 1.2% 0.0% 11.8%
FY06 14.4% 80.4% 3.5% 1.1% 0.5% 11.1%
FY07 14.9% 80.8% 3.2% 1.0% 0.1% 10.7% 83.6% 16.4%
FY08 16.6% 79.2% 3.3% 1.0% 0.0% 10.9% 21.7 83.8% 16.2%
FY09 17.2% 78.1% 3.8% 0.9% 0.0% 10.9% 21.9 84.4% 15.6%
FY10 18.9% 75.6% 4.8% 0.8% 0.0% 11.9% 21.6 85.8% 14.2%

 

 

Educational Attainment

Having a regular high school diploma is the single best predictor of successful completion of a first term of enlistment. Decades of research by the Department of Defense show that 80 percent of recruits with a high school diploma will complete their first term of enlistment while up to half of those with alternative credentials or no high school education will drop out.2 Therefore, the Army has set a goal of 90 percent of recruits with high school diplomas or better. 

For the first year since NPP began tracking military recruitment statistics in 2004, the Army not only met this goal but surpassed it. 96.8 percent of accessions in FY2010 had a high school diploma or better.

However, recent research indicates that modern high school education is failing to prepare graduates for the military. According to a report released in December 2010 by The Education Trust entitled “Shut Out of the Military: Today's High School Education Doesn't Mean You're Ready for Today's Army,” 1 in 5 high school students failed to qualify for enlistment in the Army based on their Armed Forces Qualification Test score.3 Students of color were more likely to fail the test. For future recruit pools, DoD may need to reconsider the value placed on a high school diploma if educational standards do not produce enough recruits able to pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test. 

 

Military Recruitment - Proportion of Tier 1 Recruits by State

Rank in FY10 State FY07 FY08 FY09 FY10
- All recruits 70.7% 73.4% 84.9% 96.8%
- US recruits only 70.4% 73.8% 84.8% 96.8%
44 Alabama 62.3% 68.6% 81.7% 95.0%
42 Alaska 65.3% 65.1% 71.4% 95.3%
15 Arizona 68.8% 69.4% 83.9% 97.1%
31 Arkansas 59.9% 63.7% 79.3% 96.4%
7 California 73.3% 75.6% 86.5% 97.6%
39 Colorado 69.3% 69.6% 82.4% 95.5%
3 Connecticut 78.6% 82.5% 91.0% 98.3%
35 Delaware 76.3% 81.5% 90.8% 96.1%
38 District of Columbia 79.5% 67.5% 93.2% 95.7%
10 Florida 66.1% 69.0% 82.7% 97.3%
27 Georgia 64.6% 69.1% 82.1% 96.6%
4 Hawaii 78.3% 79.6% 87.6% 98.2%
48 Idaho 64.8% 67.5% 80.3% 93.9%
24 Illinois 72.6% 77.1% 85.8% 96.8%
33 Indiana 64.8% 67.9% 78.7% 96.3%
12 Iowa 77.8% 79.4% 87.9% 97.3%
34 Kansas 72.8% 73.6% 84.1% 96.2%
40 Kentucky 71.8% 73.2% 84.3% 95.4%
8 Louisiana 64.6% 68.7% 82.0% 97.5%
17 Maine 71.9% 72.4% 85.0% 97.1%
29 Maryland 69.4% 77.6% 85.4% 96.5%
13 Massachusetts 76.8% 77.2% 88.2% 97.2%
6 Michigan 69.3% 73.0% 85.0% 97.6%
2 Minnesota 79.8% 81.7% 89.7% 98.4%
36 Mississippi 59.2% 64.2% 80.7% 95.8%
26 Missouri 73.7% 75.0% 84.7% 96.7%
51 Montana 58.2% 65.4% 76.5% 92.6%
19 Nebraska 80.6% 82.1% 92.9% 97.0%
41 Nevada 54.1% 59.7% 80.7% 95.4%
22 New Hampshire 75.4% 70.6% 86.3% 96.9%
1 New Jersey 78.3% 80.4% 87.8% 98.6%
28 New Mexico 72.6% 72.3% 81.8% 96.6%
18 New York 67.7% 73.6% 85.5% 97.1%
16 North Carolina 76.6% 79.0% 88.1% 97.1%
11 North Dakota 66.7% 71.4% 90.8% 97.3%
9 Ohio 74.9% 78.2% 87.9% 97.4%
47 Oklahoma 65.8% 70.8% 79.5% 94.6%
45 Oregon 62.3% 65.6% 78.7% 95.0%
23 Pennsylvania 75.2% 76.5% 86.1% 96.9%
37 Rhode Island 63.8% 62.3% 78.2% 95.7%
5 South Carolina 70.4% 73.2% 84.9% 97.7%
49 South Dakota 75.4% 81.5% 86.5% 93.7%
20 Tennessee 65.1% 70.6% 84.1% 97.0%
25 Texas 75.0% 77.7% 87.3% 96.8%
30 Utah 62.6% 69.2% 83.5% 96.5%
21 Vermont 80.8% 81.9% 94.3% 97.0%
32 Virginia 66.9% 71.8% 84.9% 96.4%
43 Washington 65.1% 67.8% 79.0% 95.1%
46 West Virginia 66.5% 69.0% 78.3% 95.0%
14 Wisconsin 77.7% 81.2% 90.0% 97.1%
50 Wyoming 66.9% 59.3% 83.3% 93.5%

 

 

Armed Forces Qualification Test

Each recruit is scored on a scale of 0-99 when they take the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) before beginning duty. This score is a percentile instead of an absolute and indicates where the recruit scored compared to 18-23 year old civilians who took the test in 1997 as part of a norming study. 

The Army uses the AFQT percentile scores as an indication of recruit trainability. Recruits with scores in Test Score Categories (TSC) I (AFQT percentiles 93-99) and II (65-92) are considered to be above average in trainability; those with scores in TSCs IIIA (50-64) and IIIB (31-49) are considered of average trainability; those with scores in Category IV (10-30) are considered of below average trainability; and those with scores in Category V (0-9) are considered of markedly below average trainability and are typically refused enlistment.

In previous years, the Department of Defense supplied NPP with the actual score of each recruit. For FY2010, they created three categories of scores and assigned one to each recruit (scores of 99-50, 49-31, and 30 or less). For the last category, NPP assumes this is solely Category IV recruits (with scores of 10-30) due to both the low incidence of these scores and the policy of barring those with AFQT percentiles of less than 10 from joining.

Until 2006, DoD's goal was a minimum of 67 percent of recruits testing at least in the 50th percentile of the AFQT, with scores falling into TSCs I – IIIA (99-50) and indicating average to above average trainability. That goal has since been lowered to 60 percent of recruits in these categories. The Army met their current standard with 63.9 percent of recruits scoring in TSC I-IIIA in FY2010, although this represents a decrease from the FY2009 rate of 66.4 percent.

At the other end of the scoring spectrum, DoD set the goal of 4 percent or less of recruits scoring in categories IV (10-30). FY2010 not only continued the trend of meeting this goal, but low-scoring recruits were almost non-existent. A mere 273 recruits out of 70,026 (or 0.38 percent) scored in this range. 

 

Military Recruitment - Proportion of Test Score Categories I-IIIA and IV by State

State FY08 FY09 FY10
TSC I-IIIA TSC IV TSC I-IIIA TSC IV TSC I-IIIA TSC IV
All recruits 62.0% 3.5% 66.4% 1.5% 63.9% 0.4%
US recruits only 62.6% 3.2% 67.0% 1.3% 64.5% 0.2%
Alabama 60.3% 2.4% 62.9% 1.3% 55.5% 0.0%
Alaska 66.5% 2.8% 78.1% 0.0% 65.3% 0.0%
Arizona 66.1% 2.6% 69.6% 1.2% 69.3% 0.3%
Arkansas 62.3% 3.5% 61.5% 1.5% 57.4% 0.0%
California 61.1% 4.5% 63.9% 2.0% 63.8% 0.5%
Colorado 68.5% 2.7% 74.4% 1.0% 72.2% 0.0%
Connecticut 60.3% 4.1% 66.9% 0.5% 63.5% 0.6%
Delaware 70.5% 1.4% 64.9% 3.1% 64.8% 0.0%
District of Columbia 50.0% 0.0% 57.7% 0.0% 52.2% 0.0%
Florida 63.6% 2.3% 68.2% 0.8% 63.9% 0.3%
Georgia 58.4% 2.3% 62.7% 1.3% 58.0% 0.2%
Hawaii 46.9% 9.6% 55.1% 5.2% 55.4% 0.0%
Idaho 72.6% 0.7% 75.3% 0.2% 69.5% 0.0%
Illinois 61.5% 3.7% 66.4% 1.4% 66.0% 0.1%
Indiana 70.5% 1.5% 74.1% 1.0% 72.3% 0.0%
Iowa 63.9% 3.9% 75.4% 0.9% 69.3% 0.4%
Kansas 65.3% 3.3% 74.2% 0.5% 70.0% 0.4%
Kentucky 61.8% 2.7% 64.4% 0.6% 66.1% 0.0%
Louisiana 53.1% 4.6% 56.3% 1.9% 52.8% 0.0%
Maine 64.8% 2.4% 69.8% 0.8% 72.0% 0.0%
Maryland 61.1% 3.0% 63.4% 1.0% 62.7% 0.3%
Massachusetts 62.5% 5.2% 66.6% 2.7% 69.1% 0.1%
Michigan 62.1% 4.1% 69.8% 0.9% 66.4% 0.3%
Minnesota 71.8% 2.7% 72.1% 1.5% 75.3% 0.0%
Mississippi 53.8% 4.8% 55.4% 1.2% 50.4% 0.0%
Missouri 62.7% 4.3% 66.7% 1.4% 63.0% 0.1%
Montana 65.7% 1.7% 77.9% 0.7% 73.0% 0.0%
Nebraska 69.2% 2.1% 69.2% 2.2% 69.3% 0.5%
Nevada 63.6% 2.6% 69.7% 1.1% 66.2% 0.0%
New Hampshire 67.5% 3.6% 73.0% 0.7% 75.5% 0.0%
New Jersey 56.6% 5.3% 64.8% 1.5% 62.9% 0.3%
New Mexico 59.1% 2.7% 65.3% 1.5% 61.1% 0.4%
New York 60.8% 3.8% 67.2% 1.5% 65.9% 0.4%
North Carolina 61.7% 2.9% 63.6% 1.2% 60.9% 0.2%
North Dakota 80.4% 1.8% 72.4% 1.1% 79.7% 0.0%
Ohio 64.5% 2.5% 69.3% 1.6% 64.3% 0.1%
Oklahoma 60.3% 4.0% 63.9% 1.3% 65.0% 0.0%
Oregon 69.9% 2.3% 74.8% 1.4% 72.7% 0.0%
Pennsylvania 65.5% 3.0% 71.3% 1.1% 69.9% 0.1%
Rhode Island 64.9% 2.0% 65.3% 2.7% 74.3% 0.0%
South Carolina 56.2% 3.9% 61.9% 0.7% 56.8% 0.0%
South Dakota 64.8% 5.6% 68.9% 2.0% 67.5% 0.0%
Tennessee 63.2% 2.3% 68.2% 0.6% 64.8% 0.0%
Texas 61.8% 3.3% 64.6% 1.4% 62.6% 0.3%
Utah 66.2% 1.8% 72.2% 1.8% 74.0% 0.0%
Vermont 71.6% 0.9% 76.1% 1.1% 68.7% 0.0%
Virginia 61.2% 2.9% 67.8% 1.6% 62.7% 0.1%
Washington 69.7% 1.4% 74.3% 0.8% 72.1% 0.1%
West Virginia 57.1% 3.1% 65.7% 0.3% 62.2% 0.0%
Wisconsin 68.7% 2.7% 71.5% 0.9% 69.4% 0.0%
Wyoming 70.4% 2.2% 71.7% 0.0% 67.2% 0.0%


Note. TSC I-IIIA represents AFQT test scores ranging from 50-99, and the Army's goal is for at least 60% of its recruits to score in this range. TSC IV represents AFQT scores from 10-30, and the Army's goal is for 4% or less of its recruits to score in this range. The Army typically does not enlist those scoring below the 10th percentile on the AFQT.



High Quality Recruits

The Department of Defense defines a “high quality” recruit based on a combination of educational attainment and AFQT score. A “high quality” recruit is one who scores at or above the 50th percentile on the AFQT (Categories I – IIIA) and who is Tier 1 (has a regular high school diploma or better). DoD strives to have all recruits be “high quality” as these recruits will be more likely to complete contracted enlistment terms and perform better during training and in the service.

 

Military Recruitment - Proportion of High Quality Recruits

State FY07 FY08 FY09 FY10
All recruits - - - 61.4%
US recruits only 44.9% 45.9% 54.1% 61.9%
Alabama 36.7% 40.5% 47.6% 52.2%
Alaska 46.0% 44.2% 52.8% 60.6%
Arizona 45.8% 45.8% 55.6% 66.7%
Arkansas 35.5% 38.6% 44.3% 54.7%
California 44.7% 44.9% 52.3% 61.7%
Colorado 51.8% 48.2% 59.0% 68.3%
Connecticut 51.4% 50.0% 59.2% 62.4%
Delaware 39.2% 59.6% 58.8% 62.5%
District of Columbia 46.2% 30.0% 51.9% 50.0%
Florida 41.5% 43.8% 53.3% 61.6%
Georgia 38.9% 39.4% 48.5% 55.5%
Hawaii 43.4% 38.1% 44.9% 53.8%
Idaho 47.6% 50.0% 58.5% 65.6%
Illinois 47.8% 47.0% 54.7% 63.3%
Indiana 46.2% 48.7% 55.8% 69.0%
Iowa 51.3% 51.9% 63.7% 66.9%
Kansas 49.4% 48.8% 60.1% 66.9%
Kentucky 45.0% 45.5% 52.0% 61.8%
Louisiana 33.3% 36.6% 42.7% 50.7%
Maine 50.3% 46.1% 57.1% 69.8%
Maryland 40.9% 48.2% 52.4% 60.1%
Massachusetts 51.1% 48.8% 56.6% 67.0%
Michigan 45.8% 45.5% 56.5% 64.2%
Minnesota 55.8% 58.7% 62.9% 73.8%
Mississippi 31.6% 34.1% 40.4% 47.6%
Missouri 45.5% 46.4% 53.3% 60.7%
Montana 41.2% 46.5% 58.0% 68.0%
Nebraska 51.6% 57.5% 62.7% 66.6%
Nevada 33.6% 38.9% 53.0% 62.8%
New Hampshire 55.2% 46.4% 61.9% 73.5%
New Jersey 45.2% 45.7% 54.5% 61.8%
New Mexico 41.5% 41.9% 50.8% 58.5%
New York 42.7% 45.7% 56.0% 63.7%
North Carolina 47.8% 48.8% 53.4% 58.5%
North Dakota 53.6% 60.7% 64.4% 78.4%
Ohio 51.2% 51.3% 59.1% 62.1%
Oklahoma 40.8% 43.2% 48.4% 61.4%
Oregon 43.6% 46.4% 55.7% 68.8%
Pennsylvania 50.2% 50.0% 59.4% 67.3%
Rhode Island 43.8% 39.7% 46.3% 70.7%
South Carolina 40.2% 38.0% 48.9% 54.7%
South Dakota 54.4% 53.7% 56.1% 61.9%
Tennessee 43.9% 45.2% 54.4% 62.2%
Texas 46.3% 48.1% 53.7% 60.1%
Utah 41.1% 47.0% 58.0% 71.5%
Vermont 53.4% 61.2% 70.5% 65.7%
Virginia 42.3% 44.6% 55.7% 59.9%
Washington 45.9% 47.6% 55.7% 68.2%
West Virginia 44.1% 41.7% 48.8% 58.7%
Wisconsin 52.1% 56.0% 62.4% 66.7%
Wyoming 48.2% 40.7% 58.7% 61.8%

 


Overall Recruitment Rates

The number of recruits from a given location is useful information, but it does not give a complete picture of recruitment. For example, in FY2010, Maine and Nebraska contributed almost the same number of recruits (411 and 437 respectively). However, Maine's much smaller population means they contributed a larger percentage of their youth to the military, and this is reflected in the recruitment rate of each state. Maine's rate, which is calculated as number of recruits per 1,000 youth aged 18-24, is 3.6, while Nebraska's is 2.4. In order to better illustrate the targeted demographic for enlistment, rates from NPP's previous years of analysis have been adjusted to reflect a candidate pool of 18-24 year old youths instead of the 15-24 standard used previously.

Military Recruitment - Regional Recruitment Rates

FY06 FY07 FY08 FY09 FY10
Northeast 1.61 1.54 1.56 1.44 1.50
Midwest 2.34 2.17 2.07 1.90 2.02
South 2.84 2.84 2.94 2.59 2.83
West 2.06 1.90 2.04 2.06 2.23

 

Military Recruitment - State Recruitment Rates

Rank State FY07 FY08 FY09 FY10
- US Recruits Total 2.27 2.29 2.10 2.28
8 Alabama 3.59 3.61 3.20 3.15
24 Alaska 3.00 2.87 2.39 2.36
11 Arizona 2.71 3.30 2.94 2.94
20 Arkansas 3.29 2.80 2.43 2.58
35 California 1.53 1.59 1.64 1.92
16 Colorado 2.23 2.26 2.31 2.68
45 Connecticut 1.10 1.17 1.21 1.48
42 Delaware 1.17 1.73 1.56 1.52
51 District of Columbia 0.61 0.61 0.79 0.65
6 Florida 2.99 3.17 2.86 3.25
2 Georgia 2.93 3.36 3.00 3.45
14 Hawaii 2.46 2.14 2.20 2.71
9 Idaho 2.56 2.96 2.93 3.01
38 Illinois 1.89 1.71 1.54 1.70
29 Indiana 2.21 2.46 2.17 2.08
37 Iowa 1.96 1.94 1.74 1.79
26 Kansas 2.79 2.40 2.27 2.32
34 Kentucky 2.53 2.37 2.09 1.94
36 Louisiana 2.13 2.00 1.71 1.80
1 Maine 3.34 3.14 3.04 3.59
31 Maryland 1.67 1.73 1.67 2.04
47 Massachusetts 1.23 1.37 1.30 1.43
30 Michigan 2.29 2.17 1.99 2.05
44 Minnesota 1.29 1.43 1.43 1.51
33 Mississippi 1.90 2.24 1.99 1.97
15 Missouri 2.89 2.74 2.29 2.69
17 Montana 3.39 3.00 2.96 2.67
23 Nebraska 2.21 2.09 2.00 2.38
5 Nevada 3.04 3.47 3.16 3.42
22 New Hampshire 1.99 2.04 2.27 2.40
46 New Jersey 1.19 1.26 1.31 1.47
25 New Mexico 2.27 2.59 2.26 2.33
48 New York 1.57 1.51 1.34 1.31
7 North Carolina 3.04 3.07 2.83 3.17
50 North Dakota 0.91 0.73 1.14 0.93
27 Ohio 2.30 2.29 2.16 2.29
13 Oklahoma 3.31 2.74 2.40 2.76
19 Oregon 2.50 2.53 2.71 2.61
40 Pennsylvania 1.83 1.80 1.61 1.59
49 Rhode Island 1.43 1.36 1.34 1.26
3 South Carolina 3.03 3.20 2.80 3.45
43 South Dakota 1.67 1.97 1.80 1.51
18 Tennessee 2.43 2.66 2.56 2.63
12 Texas 3.21 3.30 2.69 2.81
41 Utah 1.04 1.56 1.73 1.53
39 Vermont 1.17 1.89 1.44 1.63
10 Virginia 2.61 2.79 2.64 2.97
21 Washington 2.06 2.23 2.39 2.45
28 West Virginia 2.81 2.79 2.09 2.10
32 Wisconsin 2.37 1.87 1.80 1.97
4 Wyoming 2.59 2.56 2.59 3.43

 

 

Metro/Non Metro

The U.S. Department of Agriculture distinguishes between metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties. We used their definitions to separate metropolitan and non-metropolitan recruits in Table 10. Recruitment rates are about 20 percent higher in non-metropolitan counties than they are in metropolitan counties. That said, the vast majority of young people live in metropolitan counties, and those counties provide 81 percent of the military’s total recruits. The breakdown changes across different races. Black, Asian, and Hispanic recruits are more likely to come from metropolitan counties than the average recruit, while Native recruits are much more likely to come from non-metropolitan counties than the average recruit. 

Military Recruitment - Percentage Metro/Non Metro

Recruitment Rate Percentage of Recruits Percentage of White Recruits Percentage of Black Recruits Percentage of Asian Recruits Percentage of Native Recruits
Metro counties 2.2 81% 79% 85% 93% 57%
Non-Metro counties 2.7 19% 21% 15% 7% 43%

 

Recruit Zip Code Income

Unfortunately, the military offers no data on recruits' household incomes. However, we do know the median household income of each recruit’s zip code. Using this data we can explore whether recruits tend to come from poor, middle-class, or wealthy zip codes.

Figure 1 illustrates the likely economic background of military recruits for the years 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Each decile on the vertical y-axis represents 10 percent of the youth population, 18-24 years old. The first decile represents the 10 percent coming from the poorest zip codes while the tenth decile represents the wealthiest zip codes. As in past years, youth from both the poorest and the wealthiest zip codes are underrepresented this year. For example, in 2010 only 7 percent of recruits came from the poorest zip codes, even though those zip codes contain 10 percent of the American youth population.

Economy and Recruiting Impact

Last year, NPP analyzed the correlation between unemployment rates and recruitment rates across counties and found very little; this pattern repeated again in FY2010. Although the data does not suggest a strong statistical connection between unemployment rates and recruitment rates, other factors lend support to recruiters' assertions that the poor economy is driving candidates to seek out the armed forces as a career choice.

In terms of sheer numbers, the 7,000 recruit jump in active Army accessions between FY2009 and FY2010 speaks to an increased desire to join the Army, but this information is more powerful in context. The Delayed Entry Program (DEP) is a program which allows recruits to sign a contract which guarantees them a specific military occupation specialty and requires them to arrive at basic training by a certain date. When FY2011 recruitment began in October of 2010, the Army had already fulfilled 50 percent of its recruiting goals for the entire year with recruits in the DEP.4 When the Army is able to fulfill not only the current fiscal year's demands but half of the next, it becomes more difficult for individuals to enlist and overall recruit quality rises as the services take their pick of the best qualified.

Another impact of the influx of candidates, and the ability of recruiters to choose from among them, is the rising education requirements. With the achievement of its Tier 1 goal of 90 percent or better, the Army decided in August of 2010 to discontinue its program to help enlistees earn their GED high school equivalency certificates as part of their training.5

In April 2011 the Army announced that it was lowering the maximum enlistment age from 42 back to 35 (it raised it to 42 in 2006).6 While this did not impact recruiting in FY2010, it is another reflection of the increase in numbers of better qualified recruits.

Not every recruit joined because they were unable to find a job in the civilian sector. What is known, however, is that in FY2010 there was an increase in the number of applications, and the applicants were better qualified than in the past.