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Chapter 1:

The Youth Population

The booming economy of FY 2000 began to falter in FY 2001, with a reduction in manufacturing and an increase in layoffs. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 not only shook American confidence in personal security, but also led to reduced confidence in our economy.[Footnote 1] Colleges and universities have been experiencing increasing enrollment rates during the last decade. Add to that, youth attitudes that may not be in sync with military enlistment. All of these factors affected military recruiting during FY 2001. The sharp boost in patriotism across the country following September 11th brought a brief increase in interest in the military, but this did not translate into a significant number of recruits as many of those expressing interest did not meet Service qualifications.[Footnote 2] Given the attitudes of the new generation, current recruit marketing must not only reach youth, but inspire patriotism and the volunteer spirit among them. Recruiters must target men and women, majority and minority members alike. Current recruiting initiatives aimed at addressing the various choices youth have as they enter the workforce are being devised to target those bound for two- and four-year college programs, college dropouts and stopouts, promising high school dropouts, and Hispanic youth.

Attracting and keeping quality troops cannot be taken for granted. In the face of the declining male youth population of the 1980s, recruiting goals were met in large part because of enlistment and retention trends of minorities and women. Minority groups may indeed play a larger role in the future of the military as American society becomes increasingly diverse. By 2020, when babies born today will be eligible to join the military, the Census Bureau projects an increasing minority population, particularly for Hispanics and Asian and Pacific Islanders.[Footnote 3] Projections for the next 100 years portend a majority minority scenario, with a nearly 50-50 split among 18- to 24-year olds in 2040. Such projected changes in the civilian population warrant continued monitoring of representation in the military.

[Footnote 1]  Langdon, D.S., McMenamin, T.M., and Krolick, T.J.  "U.S. Labor Market in 2001:  Economy Enters a Recession," Monthly Labor Review, 125(2) (2002). [back to paragraph]

[Footnote 2]  Rutherford, G.  Impact of September 11, 2001, briefing presented to the Human Resources Research Organization, Alexandria, VA, May 2, 2002. [back to paragraph]

[Footnote 3]  U.S. Census Bureau, Projections of the Total Resident Population by 5-Year Age Groups, Race, and Hispanic Origin with Special Age Categories:  Middle Series, 1999 to 2100 (Washington, DC:  Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). (URL: [back to paragraph]


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