Recruiting in a Strong Economy

According to recent reports, for the first time since 2005, the U.S. Army missed its recruiting goal for the year, despite increasing its bonus pool by $200 million and approving additional waivers for bad conduct and health issues.  The Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, with much smaller requirements, all met their recruiting goals for 2018.

Welcome to the joys of finding qualified employees in a strong economy.

The military does not require much in the way of existing skills, and offers significant training opportunities, which should make it easier to find new recruits.  Unfortunately, only about 30 percent of 17-24 year-olds meet the physical, mental and moral requirements for the U.S. military, and only one in eight is interested in serving.

Historically, the military’s ability to reach recruiting goals has been a useful indicator of the national employment environment.  During periods of higher unemployment the armed forces have been able to rise its qualification standards while easily reaching annual recruiting goals.  This year’s difficulties appear to be another indicator suggesting that the U.S. may have a serious labor shortage problem that could adversely affect long term economic growth.

All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA