Analysis: Military Continues to Rely on People of Color and Low and Middle Income to Fill Ranks

Disproportionate Number of African-American Recruits in Kent County in 2008

The National Priorities Project has released its annual analysis of Army recruiting, finding that in 2008 new recruits tend to be people of color, come from low to middle income families, and are growing increasingly younger.

In summarizing the findings, Jo Comerford of the National Priorities Project states, “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.”

Summary of Recruiting Trends for 2008

The data–obtained by combining Census material with information obtained via the Freedom of Information Act–shows several striking things:

  • 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 (ARMED FORCES QUALIFICATION TEST) THAN WHITE RECRUITS.

The National Priorities Project also expresses concern that with lower test scores, recruits of color will have limited opportunities in the Army.

Military Recruiting in West Michigan

One of the strengths of the National Priorities Project’s research is that it allows folks to look at the numbers in their own communities (see MediaMouse.org posts from 2006 and 2007).

Looking at the numbers for Kent County, we found that there were 146 active-duty Army recruits. This breaks down into the following categories:

  • 83.56% were White
  • 14.38% were Black

    2.05% were Asian or Pacific Islander

    1.37% were Hispanic

According to Census statistics for Kent County, African-Americans were over-represented in the Army when compared to their percentage of the total population.

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Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org