||Race/Ethnicity. Significant racial/ethnic
differences exist among the Services, as shown in Table 2.5. Approximately 39 and 41 percent of Army and Navy accessions, respectively, are minorities, as compared to 32 percent of Marine Corps recruits and 31
percent of Air Force recruits. The Services maintained their 36 percent rate of minority recruitment in FY 1998. The proportion of Hispanics and "Other" minorities increased as the proportions of Blacks and Whites
decreased, generally mirroring the trend in the comparable civilian population.Figure 2.2 illustrates the race/ethnicity
distribution of enlisted accessions for the 25-year period, FYs 1973–1998.(19) 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 1998. 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, on average, are generally lower than those of Whites), increased during the miscalibration period. The error was corrected by September 1980.(20)
|Table 2.5. Race/Ethnicity and Gender of FY 1998 Active Component NPS
Accessions, by Service, and Civilians 18–24 Years Old (Percent)
| Non-Institutionalized Civilians 18–24 Years Old
|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 1997 – September 1998.
Figure 2.2. Race/ethnicity of Active Component NPS accessions, FYs 1973–
1998.Revised AFQT and education standards in the early 1980s limited the high minority
representation levels of the late 1970s.(21)
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 (25 percent), compared to Whites and Blacks (8 and 13 percent, respectively), confound the recruitment of qualified Hispanic applicants.(22) The Services have accessed a greater proportion of
Hispanics each year since FY 1985, when less than 4 percent of enlistees were Hispanic. Today, more than 10 percent of enlistees are Hispanic.Blacks
. In FY 1998, Blacks comprised nearly 20 percent of enlisted recruits, approximately 5 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 1998. 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 1998 saw slight increases each year toward
pre-drawdown levels of 21 percent Black accessions. In FY 1998, there was a slight decrease in Black enlistees.While Black men comprise nearly 18 percent of DoD male recruits, Black women
make up more than 28 percent of female recruits (Table 2-5 and Appendix Table B-3). Black women in FY 1998 comprised 34 percent of Army female recruits, 27 percent of Navy female recruits, 17 percent of Marine Corps female recruits, and 25
percent of Air Force female recruits. In comparison, the proportion of Black men ranged from 13 percent of Marine Corps male recruits to 21 percent of Army male 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 1998, 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 (13 percent) in FY 1998, followed by the Navy, Army, and Air Force (11, 10, and 7 percent, respectively).The proportion of Hispanic accessions has increased over the years (Appendix Table
). In FY 1983, less than 4 percent of new recruits were Hispanic. Today, more than 10 percent of enlisted accessions are Hispanic. One factor influencing the
representation of Hispanics in the military is high school graduation rates. In FY 1998, 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 are less likely to earn a high school diploma
than those in other racial/ethnic groups, the graduation rates for this ethnic group generally have been on the rise.(23)In contrast to Black females, Hispanic females are slightly less represented among
female recruits than Hispanic men are among male recruits. Approximately 10 percent of NPS accessions are Hispanic; 11 percent of male recruits and 10 percent of female recruits are Hispanic.
"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 5.0 to 9.4 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 FY 1981.
Go to next
- 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. (go back)
- 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 1998 (NCES 1999-036) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 1999), Table 105. (go back)
- See U.S. Department of Education, The Condition of Education 1999 (NCES 1999-022) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 1999), p. 247; and previous
Population Representation reports. (go back)