||Significant racial/ethnic differences exist among the Services, as shown in Table 2.5. Approximately 38 and 39 percent of
Army and Navy accessions, respectively, are minorities, as compared to 31 percent Marine Corps recruits and 30 percent Air Force recruits. The Services recruited a greater proportion of minorities in FY 1997 (36
percent) compared to FY 1996 (34 percent). The greatest increase was in the proportion of "Other" minorities (from 5 percent in FY 1996 to 6 percent in FY 1997).
Figure 2.2 illustrates the race/ethnicity distribution of enlisted accessions for the 24-year period, FYs 1973-1997.
(15) Understanding the race/ethnicity profiles requires some explanation of events during the years up to 1985, before describing the current situation.
The percentage of minority enlisted accessions increased, with some fluctuations, during the years following the end of conscription. The number of Black accessions peaked in FY
1979. Hispanic accessions also peaked in FY 1979 (ignoring aberrant data for FY 1976). Accessions of "Other" minorities, a very small proportion of new recruits, have generally
shown a gradual increase from less than 1 percent in FY 1973 to 6 percent in FY 1997. The increase of minorities coincided with a miscalibration of the ASVAB, and consequent
drop in the aptitude of accessions, both Whites and minorities, beginning in January 1976. The miscalibration led to erroneous enlistment of many low-scoring applicants. Thus,
representation of minorities, particularly Blacks (whose test scores are generally lower than those of Whites), increased during the miscalibration period. The error was corrected by September 1980.(16)
Race/ethnicity of Active Component NPS accessions, FYs 1973-1997.
Revised AFQT and education standards in the early 1980s limited the high minority representation levels of the late 1970s.(17) By FY 1983, the proportion of Black recruits had returned to approximately the same level as before the test scoring error (18 percent
Blacks in FY 1975). By the mid-1980s, a gradual increase had resumed. Not until FY 1987 did Hispanic recruit levels return to FY 1975 proportions. Higher high school
dropout rates among Hispanics (29 percent), compared to Whites and Blacks (7 and 13 percent, respectively), confound the recruitment of qualified Hispanic applicants.(18) The Services have accessed a greater proportion of Hispanics each year since FY 1985, when
less than 4 percent of enlistees were Hispanic. Today, nearly 10 percent of enlistees are Hispanic.Blacks
. In FY 1997, Blacks comprised nearly 20 percent of enlisted recruits, approximately 6 percentage points more than in the civilian population (14 percent). The
Army continues to have the highest percentage of Black accessions, 23 percent in FY 1997. In the aftermath of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and in the midst of
the drawdown (FY 1991), there were lower proportions of Black recruits than in previous years. FYs 1992 to 1997 have shown slight increases each year toward pre-drawdown levels of 21 percent Black accessions.
While Black men comprise 18 percent of DoD male recruits, Black women make up 29 percent of female recruits (Table 2-5 and Appendix Table
B-3). Black women in FY
1997 comprised 35 percent of Army female recruits, 26 percent of Navy female recruits, 19 percent of Marine Corps female recruits, and 24 percent of Air Force female recruits. Hispanics
. As the proportion of Hispanics has been increasing in the civilian population, so has the proportion of enlisted Hispanics. However, Hispanics were underrepresented
among enlisted accessions in FY 1997, 10 percent of recruits compared to 15 percent of civilian 18- to 24-year-olds. The Marine Corps had the highest proportion of Hispanic
accessions (12 percent) in FY 1997, followed by the Army, Navy, and Air Force (10, 10, and 7 percent, respectively). The proportion of Hispanic accessions has increased over the years (Appendix
. In FY 1983, less than 4 percent of new recruits were Hispanic. Today, 10 percent of enlisted accessions are Hispanic. One factor influencing the representation of Hispanics
in the military is high school graduation rates. In FY 1997, 57 percent of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanics completed high school (Tier 1) or earned an alternative credential
(Tier 2) compared to 74 percent of Blacks and 84 percent of Whites. Although Hispanics have a lower proportion of high school graduates than other racial/ethnic groups, the
graduation rates for this ethnic group generally have been on the rise.(19) "Other" minorities. Members of "Other" racial minorities (e.g., Native Americans, Asians,
and Pacific Islanders), at 6 percent, are slightly overrepresented in the Services. The proportion of "Other" minorities ranges from 4.9 to 8.3 in the Services, with the Navy the
highest. In the civilian population, 5 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are "Other" racial minorities, an increase of more than 3 percentage points since 1981.Go to Gender
|Table 2.5. Race/Ethnicity and Gender of FY 1997 Active Component NPS
Accessions, by Service (Percent)
| 18-24 Year-Old Non-Institutionalized Civilians
|Columns may not add to total due to rounding.
Also see Appendix Tables B-3 (Race/Ethnicity by Service and Gender) and
B-4 (Ethnicity by Service).
Source: Civilian data from Bureau of
Labor Statistics Current Population Survey File, October 1996 - September 1997.
- See Appendix Tables D-5 (White accessions), D-6 (Black accessions), D-7 (Hispanic accessions), and D-8 ("Other" accessions) by Service and fiscal year.
- Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower, Reserve Affairs, and Logistics), A Report to the House Committee on Armed Services: Aptitude Testing of Recruits
(Washington, DC, 1980).go back
- Congressional Budget Office, Social Representation in the U. S. Military (Washington, DC, 1989), p. 54.go back
- See U.S. Department of Education, The Digest of Education Statistics 1997 (NCES 98-015) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 1997), Table 103.go back
- See U.S. Department of Education, The Condition of Education 1997 (NCES 97-388) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 1997), p. 95; and previous
Population Representation reports.go back