In the United States, the current recession, which has seen the
unemployment rate go from 4.5 percent to 6.5 percent (and possibly as high as 8
percent in the next year, before it starts coming down) has been a big help for
military recruiters. Not only are they getting plenty of recruits, but they can
be more picky, upping standards. The higher quality recruits are cheaper to
train (fewer drop out) and easier to work with (fewer disciplinary problems,
and thus fewer getting tossed out before their enlistments are up.)
to new recruits, thousands of officers and troops who got out in the last year,
have returned. The services learned long ago that people they can't keep,
sometimes change their minds after they leave. So in most cases, anyone who is
gone less than a year, is allowed back in with minimum hassle, or loss of rank.
Department of Defense also expects to cut back on retention bonuses, which cost
$1.6 billion last year. These will still be paid to a lot of senior combat
commanders (particularly NCOs, especially if they are in Special Forces) about
to retire, but many of the younger troops with technical skills, will find
themselves offered smaller, if any, bonuses, as well as less rosy employment
prospects on the civilian side.
planners see this as a short term bonus, for economic history shows that, since
World War II, recessions have been steadily fewer and shallower. This one may
be deeper than usual, but it won't break the trend. In a few years, recruiters
will again be scrambling for every recruit.