National Priorities.org – 2007-01-03 22:25:07
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(December 22, 2006) — The summary below highlights the first installment of NPP’s research results on military recruiting in fiscal year 2006, along with comparisons to 2004 and 2005 where possible. The tables and charts provide additional information. More data and statistics will be available for all branches of the military at a later date. To obtain data for FY2004 and FY2005, visit the NPP Database. .
The following analysis (tables, graphs and summary) is based on all non-prior service active-duty Army accessions in fiscal year 2006. The data were obtained from the US Army through a FOIA request submitted by the National Priorities Project.
In cases where references are made to the youth population, all recruits are still included in the analysis. In other words, recruits above 24 years old are included, but the relevant comparisons by ZIP Code, county and state is the youth population since this constitutes the vast majority of recruits.
• Chart: Army recruits by neighborhood income, 2004, 2005 and 2006
• Table: Army recruits, total and per 1000 youth by state, 2005-2006
• Top 100 counties by recruits per 1000 Youth, 2006
• Top 100 counties by number of recruits, 2006
• Table: Educational Attainment by State, 2005-06
• Table: Percentage of ‘high quality’ by state, 2005-06
• Chart: Spending on military recruiting
• List of Army bases by county
Analysis of Army Recruiting in 2006
Background on Department of Defense Benchmarks
The Department of Defense (DoD) strives for all recruits to have a regular high school diploma. It finds that those with regular high school diplomas are more likely to complete their first term of enlistment than those without diplomas – 80 percent versus 50 percent. The DoD has found that GED holders are also less likely to complete their first term than regular high school diploma graduates.1
A ‘high quality’ recruit is defined by the DoD as one with a regular high school diploma AND who scores in the 50th percentile or greater on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT). The AFQT is administered widely to young people across the country, not just to potential recruits. The test scores are normed from its wide application. The DoD’s benchmark for the proportion of high-quality recruits is 60 percent.
These benchmarks were established to “minimize personnel and training costs while maintaining…cohort performance,” according to the DoD.2 Not meeting the benchmark requirements means more recruits not completing a first term of enlistment, increasing overall recruiting and training costs as well as potentially decreasing performance.
How the active-duty Army recruits in FY2006 compare to benchmarks
Due to the difficulties in recruiting, the Army met its quantitative goals in fiscal year 2006, but did not meet its qualitative benchmarks.
In 2004, 61 percent of active-duty Army recruits were ‘high quality,’ according to DoD criteria. In 2006, while the Army filled its ranks, only 47 percent – less than half – were ‘high quality,’ according to the same DoD criteria. Table
The percentage of new recruits who were regular high school graduates (tier 1 in DoD parlance) dropped from 84 percent in 2005 to 73 percent in 2006, again falling short of the 90 percent benchmark established by the DoD after decades of research and experience.
The percentage in 2004 was 86 percent. Put another way, the percentage of recruits with alternative credentials grew from 13 percent in 2004 to 16 percent in 2005 to 27 percent in 2006, or doubling in just two years. Table
The states with the largest proportion of ‘high-quality’ recruits were: North Dakota (59 percent), Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Masssachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.
All of those except Nebraska and Wisconsin have recruiting rates (recruits per 1000 youth) below the national average. None of these states had a proportion of high-quality recruits equal to the national average of 2004. Table
The states with the lowest proportion of high-quality recruits were: Mississippi (35 percent), Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Georgia, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Hawaii and Tennessee. Of those, Mississippi, Louisiana and Rhode Island were below the national recruiting rate. Table
Despite earlier press reports implying this was not the case,3 92 recruits scored a IV (10-30 percentile, in other words, well below the 50th percentile) and did not have a regular high school diploma. By law, anyone scoring a IV must have a regular high school diploma, not a GED or alternative qualification, to be recruited.4
Recruits per thousand youth
Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Montana had the highest recruiting rates. Connecticut, New Jersey and the District of Columbia had the lowest number of active-duty Army recruits per 1000 youth in fiscal year 2006. Table
Edmonson County, Kentucky; Dallam County, Texas; and Pope County, Illinois had the highest number of recruits per thousand youth population in the country. Table
Los Angeles County, California, and Harris County and Bexar County, both of Texas, had the highest number of active-duty Army recruits in fiscal year 2006.Table
Army recruits in 2006 came from similar income-level neighborhoods as in 2004 and 2005. Wealthy neighborhoods (with a median household income of $60,000 or more) were more under-represented than they were in 2004. The low- to middle-income ZIP codes were slightly more over-represented than they were in 2004..
‘Very poor’ ZIP codes appear to be under-represented but this result should be treated with caution. Preliminary research indicates a large number of these ZIP Codes are university dormitories. Thus, they have unusually high 18-24 year-old populations, few recruits, and very low median household incomes.
More tax dollars on recruiting
The recruiting and advertising budget includes Department of Defense spending on operating the recruiting stations and advertising. The budget rose to $1.5 billion in 2005 and surpassed $1.8 billion this fiscal year.
However that amount does not include the pay and benefits of 22,000 military recruiters and recruiting-related spending such as enlistment bonuses used to entice new recruits. The total amount spent on all military recruiting is around $4 billion per year. Chart
• 1) — Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Population Representation 2004 Chapter 2-16.
• 2) — OUSD, Population Representation 2004 Chapter 2-4.
• 3) — See for example, the Associated Press, ‘Army tops recruit goal by lowering standards,’ Oct. 9, 2006. 4OUSD, Population Representation 2004 Chapter 2- 3.