"the Army had more than 32,300 people in its delayed entry pool — people who have enlisted but have not shipped to basic training. That number is more than 43 percent of the annual recruiting goal, the highest it has been since 2004."Bill Carr, under secretary of defense for military personnel policy, cited the weakness in the U.S. economy, and improved recruitment programs and bonuses as key reasons for the 2009 recruiting results.
"High-quality recruits are more expensive to recruit, Carr noted.
A direct correlation exists between the economy and recruit quality, economists say. John Warner and Curtis Simon of Clemson University have estimated that a 10 percent increase in the unemployment rate leads to a 3 percent to 4 percent increase in high-quality enlistment. Another study has suggested a 5 percent increase, Warner said.
In addition, many studies show that high education levels, AFQT scores and experience all correlate to productivity and flexibility in service. Experts say recruits with high school diplomas are much more likely to finish their first terms of service and perform higher-quality work.
Carr said the improvements were particularly remarkable given the increasing difficulty in finding qualified candidates for accession, with nearly three-quarters of today’s high school graduates going on to college, compared to 50 percent in the 1980s, Carr said.
Moreover, in the 1980s, one in 20 17-to-24-year-olds were considered obese by Centers for Disease Control standards; today, the ratio is one in four.
“That creates a tighter constraint as you seek to find fully qualified recruits,” Carr said, adding that the military has to attract more than 15 percent of qualified young Americans in order to maintain the force."
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