Washington, Jan.19 (ANI): With the recession in the United States showing no signs of ending, Americans are looking at the country's armed forces as a viable employment option, lured by factors such as a steady paycheck, benefits and training.
As of December 2008 alone, 21,443 new soldiers have joined active duty or the reserves, reports the New York Times.
Of the four armed services, the Army has faced the toughest recruiting challenge in recent years because of high casualty rates in Iraq and long deployments overseas.
Recruitment is also strong for the Army National Guard, according to Pentagon figures. The National Guard tends to draw older people.
"When the economy slackens and unemployment rises and jobs become more scarce in civilian society, recruiting is less challenging," the paper quotes Curtis Gilroy, the director of accession policy for the Department of Defense, as saying.
Another lure is the new G. I. Bill, which will significantly expand education benefits.
Beginning this August, service members who spend at least three years on active duty can attend any public college at government expense or apply the payment toward tuition at a private university.
As far as the United States is concerned, there has traditionally been a strong link between increased education benefits and new enlistments.
The Army has managed to meet its recruitment goals each year since 2006, but with some difficulty.
On the one hand one would think that the current recession is boon for the armed forces as far as recruitment quotas are concerned, but on the other, the procedure of recruitment and the staff involved in it, can be a stressful assignment.
The NYT report says that recruiters must typically talk to 150 people before finding one person who meets military qualifications and is interested in enlisting.
Recruiting offices are reporting a jump in the number of young men and women inquiring about joining the service in the past three months.
As a rule, when unemployment rates climb so do military enlistments. In November, the Army recruited 5,605 active-duty soldiers, six percent more than its target, and the Army Reserve signed up 3,270 soldiers, and sixteen percent more than its goal. December, when the jobless rate reached 7.2 percent, saw similar increases in recruitments.
The Army recruitment age limit is 42, which was raised from 35 in 2006 to draw more applicants.
The Army Reserve and the National Guard have also received a boost from people eager to supplement their falling incomes. (ANI)