ACTIVE COMPONENT ENLISTED FORCE
Pay Grade. Enlisted pay grades, E1 to E9, correspond to the ranks of Private in the Army and Marine Corps, Seaman Recruit in the Navy, and Airman Basic in the Air Force through Sergeant Major in the Army and Marine Corps, Master Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, and Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force. Enlisted personnel in grades E1 and E2 are trainees. Members in pay grades E3 and E4 are at the apprentice level, working under journeymen, who are at pay grades E5 and E6. Supervisor positions are at pay grades E7 through E9. Soldiers, marines, and airmen at pay grades E5 and above and some at E4 are noncommissioned officers (NCOs), with demonstrated ability in the job and as a leader. In the Navy, those at pay grades E4 and above are petty officers, with leadership responsibilities. Servicemembers in NCO and petty officer positions are required to lead, supervise, and train entry-level enlisted personnel. They perform the work as well as direct the work of others.
More than half of the enlisted force is in pay grades E1 through E4 at 53 percent. (Table 3.12 and Table 3.13). Grades E4 and E5 have the largest concentration of the enlisted force (22 and 21 percent, respectively). This distribution is necessary to provide a sufficient number of trained leaders to fill the higher ranks; not all personnel in the lower ranks reenlist and progress to the higher grades.
A comparison of pay grade distributions by race/ethnicity shows differences in retention. Blacks traditionally have higher retention rates than other racial/ethnic groups, resulting in a larger percentage of Black enlisted members at pay grades E6 through E9. For FY 2004 there was a larger percentage of Black enlisted members in those grades but Asian and Whites were not far behind (32, 24 and 25 percent respectively).
In contrast, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians/Pacific
Islanders and individuals of multiple races are found more in lower grades
(E1 through E4) at 67, 67 and 66 percents, respectively, indicating lower
retention rates. Hispanics are also clustered in the lower grades (55