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Feb-19-2009 07:25printcomments

Fifty-Two Percent of New Recruits in 2008 are 20 or Younger

National Priorities Project (NPP) finds a drop in age among new recruits, an over representation of low- and middle-income individuals, an increase in Black recruits and a decrease in Hispanic recruits.

Army basic training
Courtesy: static.howstuffworks.com

(NORTHAMPTON, Mass.) - A new NPP analysis notes a significant drop in age among new recruits. Using census material, combined with data on 2008 Army enlistment obtained through a Freedom of Information Act, NPP research also uncovers a continued over representation of recruits from low- and middle-income families, an increase in Black recruits, decrease in Hispanic recruits and important education trends.

This work is a result of an expanded NPP initiative, which now includes a database of 2004-2008 military recruitment numbers broken down by zip code, county and state. A snapshot analysis and overview of current military recruitment data, which includes a ranking of counties by recruits per thousand youth, charts and tables on a particular county, zip code or state is available at nationalpriorities.org.

"The education trends are striking," notes Suzanne Smith, Research Director for National Priorities Project. "While both Hispanic and Black recruits are more likely to have a high school diploma than whites, as a group they have lower AFQT scores. This finding makes us question their opportunities as enlisted personnel."

NPP's new data shows:

Low- and middle income neighborhoods continue to be overrepresented. Active-duty Army recruits disproportionately come from low-to middle income neighborhoods. Neighborhood incomes in the lowest 10% of population were underrepresented, as were those in the top 20%.

The age of new recruits fell. Fifty-two percent of new recruits in 2008 were below the age of 21. This is up from 48.5% in 2007.

The percentage of recruits who are black has risen since 2005, increasing from 15% in 2005 to 16.6% in 2008. The sharpest increase was between 2007 and 2008.


The percentage of new recruits who are Hispanic has fallen a full percentage point between 2005 and 2008, with 10.85% of new recruits identifying themselves as Hispanic.

Both Hispanic and Black recruits are also more likely than whites to be women, and to come from low-income neighborhoods.

Both Hispanic and Black recruits are more likely to have a high school diploma, but as a group have lower scores on the AFQT than white recruits.

Jo Comerford, NPP's Executive Director adds, "Even more striking than the finding that 52% of new recruits are below the age of 21 is the fact that 82.2% of new recruits are 24 or under. Once again we are compelled to note the Army's disproportionate reliance on young people, people of color and individuals from low- and middle-income families to fill its ranks. And this on the heels of the recent decision to recruit immigrants with temporary visas, offering them a fast-track to citizenship in exchange for service – because the Army still cannot meet its ever-expandng quotas."

Source: The National Priorities Project




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Anonymous February 19, 2009 3:09 pm (Pacific time)

anon agress with previous anon. And I dont care who's name is in the box, I just read the comments. Not sure why some have such a problem with that. By the way, this article does not mention how many illegal immigrants are being recruited with the promise for citizenship.


Henry Ruark February 19, 2009 11:41 am (Pacific time)

"Anon": You wrote: "Myths do not make for good science." Very true; but also extremely obvious that anonymity doth not make for any credibility whatsoever, either, especially when attacking solidly documented story from recognized national sources. If you wish to be taken seriously, especially when commenting on science, you need badly to recognize that essential foundation for any communication: One MUST know source to evaluate whatever is being offered. SO if you DO have "right to speak" on topic, provide us with proof via full ID. When one sources-well what's being reported, that is obligation to readers and in no way can be taken as self-kudos.


Anonymous February 19, 2009 9:58 am (Pacific time)

This is a highly flawed study that misrepresents Department of Defense demographic studies. In addition the Veterans Administration and the DOD, independent of each other, have the same demographic numbers, which are quite different than this poorly designed study. In addition if one takes the time to see the demographics for those military personnel killed in action, the numbers will be quite revealing. Myths do not make for good science.

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