USA Today passes along an extremely interesting economic indicator for the young adult labor markets:
The Army is nearly 14% short of the recruits it will need to fill its ranks, marking the first time in six years — and only the third in the last 20 — that it may fall short of its recruiting goal for the year….
And recruiters are working harder just to get potential soldiers to meet with them.
For the first 10 months of fiscal year 2015, recruiters made more than 415,000 appointments with young men and women interested in the Army. Those resulted in just over 50,000 signing up to serve. For the same period in 2014, they made 371,000 appointments and had signed up 52,000 soldiers…..
Moreover, the quality of recruits has remained high, Snow said. There has been a decrease in the percentage of recruits who have received waivers for failing to meet educational or other standards.
In 2005, the Pentagon relaxed standards for recruits who fared poorly on standard military exams. Those who scored in the lower third of the test, so-called Category Four recruits — had been limited to 2% of recruits. The relaxed standard allowed 4% of those recruits, and even that was exceeded at times. Less than 1% of recruits this year belong in Category Four…..
The US military wants to recruit from the 18 to 20 year population of adults who mostly have their shit together. They want to recruit high school graduates who have never been in trouble with the law and who have decent options outside of the military. Reasonably smart recruits are a bit more expensive to recruit than the knuckle heads and idiots but they tend to perform a hell of a lot better when making or preventing very expensive things from going boom.
During the Iraq Occupation, recruiting was a massive problem. The US Army faced its recruiting shortfall by a combination of throwing money at the problem and dropping standards dramatically. The Army was taking in soldiers and sending them to Iraq that in a non-recruiting crisis mode, they would never have offered an enlistment contract. That is not the case now. Instead, young adults who have options besides the Army are taking those options which is a decent indicator that the young adult job market is half decent if those other options are better than a peace time army where the odds of being shot at are far lower today than they were three, five or seven years ago.