ACTIVE COMPONENT ENLISTED APPLICANTS AND ACCESSIONS
Race/Ethnicity. Significant racial and ethnic differences exist among the Services, as shown in Tables 2.7 and 2.8. Approximately 20 and 33 percent of Army and Navy accessions, respectively, are minorities, as compared to 13 percent of Marine Corps recruits and 22 percent of Air Force recruits. Overall, the Services’ FY 2004 NPS enlisted accessions include 22 percent minorities.
In FY 2004, the percentage of minority recruits (22 percent) was smaller than the percentages of FYs 1999-2003, ranging from 32 to 37 percent, the largest proportions of minority accessions since the inception of the All Volunteer Force.
Minority accession proportions must be examined in conjunction with the civilian population. Minority accession proportions in FY 2004 were similar to the comparable civilian population of 18-24 year-olds. In FY 2004, Blacks, American Indian and Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders were slightly overrepresented. Whites, Asians, and those of multiple race were somewhat underrepresented. Hispanics were underrepresented (13 percent of accessions compared to nearly 18 percent of civilians). It is difficult to make comparisons with earlier years because the racial categories were expanded and changed for reporting in 2003.
Blacks. In FY 2004, Blacks comprised nearly 15 percent of enlisted recruits, approximately half of a percentage point more than in the civilian population (14 percent). The Navy enlisted the most Blacks in FY 2004 with nearly 20 percent (15, 14, and 8 percent in the Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps, respectively). In FY 2004, all Services except the Navy experienced lower or the same Black proportions in their accessions. This reduction narrowed the representation gap between the military Services and the civilian population. Some view this demographic shift as the result of differing responses to the September 11th terrorist attacks, [footnote 19] while others view it as more linked to the prevailing economic conditions during FY 2004. While the root causes may never be completely isolated, it is clear that the effect is an FY 2004 accession cohort that closely reflects society.
While Black men comprise 13 percent of DoD male recruits, Black women make up 22 percent of female recruits (Table 2-7 and Appendix Table B-3). Black women in FY 2004 comprised 24 percent of Army and Navy female recruits, 12 percent of Marine Corps female recruits, and 19 percent of Air Force female recruits. In comparison, the proportion of Black men ranged from 8 percent of Marine Corps male recruits to 19 percent of Navy male recruits.
"Other" minorities. Members of "Other" racial minorities (e.g., American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and those of multiple races) are 7 percent. The proportion of "Other" minorities ranges from nearly 6 to 13 percent in the Services, with the Navy having the largest percentage. In the civilian population, 8 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are "Other" racial minorities.
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 2004, 13 percent of recruits compared to nearly 18 percent of civilian 18- to 24-year-olds. The Marine Corps had the highest proportion of Hispanic accessions (16 percent) in FY 2004, followed by the Navy, Army, and Air Force (15, 13, and 10 percent, respectively). One factor influencing the representation of Hispanics in the military is high school graduation rates; Hispanics are less likely to earn a high school diploma than those in other racial/ethnic groups. [footnote 20] In FY 2004, 62 percent of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanics completed high school (Tier 1) or earned an alternative credential (Tier 2) compared to 75 percent of Blacks and 80 percent of Whites.
[Footnote 19] Burger, E.C., The Impact of September 11 on Military Enlisted Recruiting (Fort Knox, KY, U.S. Army Accessions Command, Center for Accessions Research, 2003). [back to paragraph]
[Footnote 20] See Appendix Table B-8; U.S. Department of Education, Status and Trends in the Education of Hispanics (NCES 2003-008) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2003), p. 42-43; U.S. Department of Education, Dropout Rates in the United States: 2000 (NCES 2002-114) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2001), pp. 18-19; and previous Population Representation reports. [back to paragraph]