Military Recruiting Up as Economy Turns Down
It was inevitable: As it becomes harder to find work in the civilian sector, more people are turning to their local military recruiter.
The economic downturn and rising unemployment rate are making the military a more attractive option, Pentagon officials say. In some cases, the peace of mind that comes with good benefits and a regular paycheck is overcoming concerns about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which any new enlistee is likely to join.
Since the military became an all-volunteer force in 1973, recruiters have generally struggled in times of private-sector job growth and done well during recessions. But in addition to the recent downturn, they say they are benefiting from better news out of Iraq, where U.S. casualities are down, and from the election of Barack Obama (D), who has pledged to withdraw troops from Iraq.
The active-duty Army, which like other branches has increased benefits and added recruiters, said last month that it had recruited more than 80,000 soldiers during the past fiscal year, the third year in a row it has met its recruiting goals. Good news for the Army has coincided with terrible news elsewhere. The unemployment rate has jumped from 4.8 to 6.5 percent in the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that time, the ranks of the unemployed grew by 2.8 million, to 10.1 million.
In an ideal world, people would join the military out of a sense of calling. And, of course, many do. In reality, though, most sign up because it’s the best option available to them and then stay out of some combination of liking the job and the reward of pension and other benefits.