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« Quotational Therapy: Part 56 -- Winston Churchill. | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 210 -- Fundraising. »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 209 -- Who Is In The Military?

Military Demographics-

With the war on terror persisting around the world, many folks have made assertions and insinuations, worthy of the Vietnam era, alleging that the military is recruiting poor minorities to fight the war of "the man."

Democrat Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, who has repeatedly called for a military draft in America, asserted erroneously that:

“... [a] disproportionate number of the poor and mem­bers of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the military, while most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent.”

Michael Moore, in his grotesque, error-filled "documentary" Fahrenheit 9/11, painted the military recruitment process as some sort of high-pressure, predatory exploitation of poverty-stricken African-Americans with no other options in life.

This "fortunate son" scenario is just not backed up by the facts.


According to the 2000 Census, national median income for all U.S. households was $41,994 in 1999 (all figures use 1999 dollars), compared to a mean household income of $41,141 for homes of recruits of that year. We calculate recruit income by using the median household income of the five-digit ZIP code of the recruit’s home of record. Because more recruits came from high-income neighbor­hoods in 2003, the mean income rose to $42,822. There were proportionately fewer recruits (18.0 per­cent) from the poorest quintile of ZIP codes in 1999, as well as fewer from the richest quintile (18.6 per­cent). The income distribution of new recruits after September 11, 2001, is remarkably different. In 2003, only 14.6 percent of military recruits came from the poorest quintile, while the wealthiest quin­tile provided 22.0 percent.


In 1999, 98 per­cent of all enlisted recruits had at least a high school education, compared to the national average of 75 percent among citizens who are 18–24 years old. In 2003, no three-digit ZIP code area had a higher graduation rate among its population than among its recruits. After September 11, 2001, the educational quality of recruits rose slightly.


In 2003, blacks made up a higher percent­age of Army recruits (15 percent) than the adult population (11.3 percent) for a recruit-to-popula­tion ratio of 1.44. However, the recruit-to-popula­tion ratio of white recruits was 1.01, meaning that blacks did not displace whites. Rather, the racial groups with disproportionately low recruit-to-pop­ulation ratios in 2003 were Asians, Hispanics, and individuals who declined to identify a race. Regard­ing the issue of disproportionate recruiting from black neighborhoods, we found that the 100 three-digit ZIP code areas with the highest concentration of blacks had 14.63 percent of the adult population but provided 16.58 percent of 1999 recruits and only 14.09 percent of 2003 recruits.

The Heritage Foundation.

Moreover, it's been well-documented that African-Americans, despite being overrepresented in the military relative to the overall population, participate in combat operations proportionally less than their white counterparts.

Some might be tempted to chalk up these trends to lagging overall military recruitment, but this would also be a mistake. The U.S. Army, for example, that both new recruitment and reenlistment are strong. Overall, military recruiting is much stronger than many want us to believe.

More on the urban versus rural recruitment situation.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: State Income Taxes.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 November 2005 12:40 PM