Department of Defense recruiters, especially the army ones, are
benefitting from the current recession. While the military has met its
recruiting goals since September 11, 2001, and have even been able to expand a
bit, they had to lower standards a bit. The biggest problem recruiters have is
not with anti-war activists (who get the most attention) but a booming economy.
Since most (over 80 percent) of the jobs in the army have nothing to do with
combat, recruiters are basically competing with the civilian job market. For
the educated, energetic young people the army is seeking, there are often lots
good jobs out there that don't require extended visits to places like Iraq and
have a much easier time with recent high school grads looking for some
adventure, or feeling patriotic. These two factors bring in most of the
recruits for combat units. Actually, it's been easier getting recruits for
combat jobs, than for some technical ones.
The word is now
out that joining the army is becoming very competitive, and the signing bonuses
will probably go away sometime next year because of the large number of quality
recruits trying to get in. Now there's an opportunity for the army to snag
young men and women with job experience and some technical skills, without
paying big signing bonuses.
are also seeing more applicants. If you have the right skills, you can get signing
bonuses as high as $20,000 for joining the reserves, Take those skills and join
the active army, and you get twice as much. Jobs in the reserves are seen as
something to fall back on, a second job, so to speak. But it's also widely
known that a reservist can transfer to active service, if you want, or need, a
full time gig.
To keep the
ranks filled, the army had to take more recruits that had not graduated from
high school (currently 17 percent, versus only 8 percent non-grads for all the
services). Improved selection and training methods kept army performance up,
but it made initial training more expensive. Higher quality recruits are
cheaper to train, and fewer of them get "fired" ("dismissed from
needs nearly 200,000 recruits in the next twelve months, for its active and
reserve forces. So far this year, the U.S. economy has lost 760,000 jobs. Since
military recruits have to be above average, physically and mentally, to get in,
perhaps only a third of those jobs were held by men and women who could make
the initial cut for joining the army. But another million jobs may be lost
before the recession is over, with the unemployment rate going to 7-8 percent.
The military provides four year contracts, and much less risk of getting hurt
in combat. It's always been an attractive alternative to unemployment.