By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
Dec. 16, 2008 - Although military recruiting is less difficult in a waning economy and low job market, attracting recruits remains an ongoing challenge, a Defense Department official said here today during an interview with the Pentagon Channel. "Military recruiting is always a challenge, regardless of what the unemployment rate is," Curt Gilroy, accession policy director for the Defense Department, said.
Unemployment in the United States rose to 6.7 percent in November and is projected to continue its increase in 2009, the Labor Department reported last month. For the military, however, high unemployment typically means more recruits and higher retention rates.
"When the economy is lacking and unemployment rises, like we're experiencing today, jobs are scarcer and military recruiting is less challenging," Gilroy explained. "But it's still a tough job for our recruiters."
In spite of the unemployment rate or the state of the economy, the services still need to recruit 185,000 men and women each year in the active-duty forces and another 65,000 for the reserves just to replenish the force, he noted.
Recruiters have one of the toughest jobs in the military, he said. About 15,500 of them work in recruiting stations across the country, educating young men and women on benefits, pay and training opportunities in the military, Gilroy said.
military recruiters have the most significant impact in the whether the services reach their monthly and annual goals, even with a difficult economy, he said.
Recruiting so far in fiscal 2009, which began Oct. 1, is on par with the success the Defense Department enjoyed in fiscal 2008, which was the department's highest recruiting year in the past five, he said, adding that the trend has continued into the first two months of fiscal 2009.
Although the Defense Department only releases specifics on recruit quality annually, Gilroy said, the majority of recruits in October and November had high school diplomas and scored above average on the armed forces' aptitude tests.
"The state of the union with respect for recruiting is very good, particularly the last two months," he said. "Beginning fiscal year 2009, the services have not only met their numerical recruiting goals, but they've met their quality recruiting goals as well."
The total force enlisted more than 28,000 new recruits in October and November. For both months, the Army and Marine Corps exceeded their goals, while the Navy and Air Force met their goals.
"Regardless of what unemployment is, we need to recruit about 250,000 young men and women each year to replenish the force," Gilroy said. "We talk about the military being an all-volunteer military, but it's really an all-recruited military."