NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Costs For Military Recruiting Skyrocket

October 22, 1999

Enticing young men and women into the armed forces is getting exceedingly expensive, officials say. In the past five years, the cost per new service member has risen by as much as 74 percent in the case of the Air Force and by double digits for the other branches.

At the same time, two of the military's four branches -- the Army and Air Force -- are failing to reach their recruitment goals.

  • Although the Army spent more than $11,000 for every soldier it recruited this year, it missed its goal by 6,300.
  • While the Air Force raised recruitment spending 28 percent this year -- shelling out $5,403 per airman -- it fell short of its goal by 1,700.
  • The Navy reached its goal for the year only after spending 38 percent more in 1999 than in 1995 -- a total of $8,835 per recruit.
  • The Marine Corps spent the least per recruit -- $6,006 each.

The military spent a total of $1.8 billion this year to attract 186,000 active-duty personnel.

Private corporations spend an average of $8,628 to recruit each new employee, according to the Saratoga Institute. In the service industry the cost is $7,212. While the figures for private industry have remained relatively stable over the past five years, the military's recruitment costs have been escalating swiftly and are expected to go up again next year.

Sources: Andrea Stone, "Military Recruiting Costs Soar," and "Paying High Price for Preparedness," both in USA Today, October 22, 1999.


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