The military attracts and retains higher proportions of Blacks and "Other" minority groups but lower proportions of Hispanics than are in the civilian labor force. As Table 3.3 indicates, the overall proportion of enlisted minorities was higher than in the civilian labor force in FY 2001 (38 and 31 percent, respectively). However, Hispanics were underrepresented among enlisted members (9 percent versus 13 percent).
In FY 2001, 23 percent of the enlisted force was Black, compared with 13 percent of the civilian labor force (18-44 year-olds). The Army had the highest proportion of Black enlisted members in FY 2001 (29 percent).
Changes over time in the percentage of Black enlisted members in each Service are shown in Figure 3.3. Black soldiers in the Army increased from 18 percent in FY 1973 to a high of 33 percent in FY 1981. That proportion decreased to 30 percent by the mid-1980s, in large part due to an increase in entrance standards and the Army's decision not to renew enlistment contracts of low-scoring members who entered during the ASVAB misnorming. The proportion of Blacks in the Army has decreased slightly during the past 10 years, from 32 percent in FY 1990 to 29 percent in FY 2001. The Marine Corps has experienced slight decreases in Blacks during recent years too. Decreases in the Army and Marine Corps parallel the drop in minority accessions in FY 1991 and the concomitant decrease in the propensity to enlist among Black youth.[Footnote 2] The Navy, on the other hand, has exhibited a consistent long-term increase in the proportion of Blacks, from 8 percent in FY 1973 to 21 percent in FY 2001. In all Services, the percentage of female members who are Black significantly exceeds the percentage of male members who are Black (Appendix Table B-25).
In FY 2001, active duty Hispanic enlisted members were a smaller part of the enlisted force than of the civilian labor force in the 18-44 age group (9 percent and 13 percent, respectively). The highest representation of Hispanics was in the Marine Corps (14 percent). The proportions of "Other" minority individuals in the Army and Navy were similar (7 and 9 percent, respectively), while the Marine Corps and Air Force had somewhat less (4 and 3 percent, respectively).
Although Hispanic enlisted members were underrepresented in FY 2001, Hispanic representation in the Services has increased 5 percentage points since 1985, when less than 4 percent of the enlisted force was Hispanic (Figure 3.4). Hispanics are the fastest growing group in the United States. In 1985, the 18- to 44-year-old civilian labor force included nearly 7 percent declaring Hispanic descent. By 1994, the civilian population boasted more than 10 percent Hispanics, compared to less than 6 percent in the DoD. By FY 2001, Hispanics made up more than 13 percent of the civilian labor force, with projections of continuing increases.[Footnote 3] The military's increases, on average, have nearly, but not quite, kept pace with the rate of growth of Hispanics in the civilian population during the last 15 years. However, DoD has not been able to catch up to the percentages of those of Hispanic origin in the civilian labor force.
[Footnote 2] Memorandum from Alphonso Maldon, Jr., Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Management Policy), Subject:& 1999 Youth Attitude Tracking Study, January 11, 2000. [back to paragraph]
[Footnote 3] U.S. Census Bureau. Projections of the Resident Population by Race, Hispanic Origin, and Nativity: Middle Series, 2006 to 2010. URL: http://www.census.gov/population/www/projections/popproj.html [back to paragraph]