High unemployment rate boosts Army recruitment

The StateMarch 19, 2009 

Although South Carolina has long been a fertile ground for recruiters, its 10.4 percent jobless rate — second-highest in the nation — appears to be prompting even more people to visit or give the Army a call.

Through the first five months of the 2009 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, the number of troops signed by the Army’s Columbia Recruiting Battalion was up 17 percent compared to a similar period in 2008. By the way, the jobless rate in South Carolina in 2008 was 6.9 percent.

For the first five months of the 2009 fiscal year, the battalion enlisted 1,198 soldiers, compared to 1,020 between October and February in 2008. The battalion covers all of South Carolina, except the Charleston area, plus western North Carolina, Charlotte and Augusta.

"It's related to the economy," said Sgt. 1st Class Neal McMillan, commander on the Pontiac recruiting station.

His office is up 10 percent compared to last year, he added.

While all the U.S. military services have met or exceed recruiting goals so far this year, the Army’s success seems most directly linked to the economy.

"We are seeing more people who are approaching us than we did last spring," said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commander of the Army’s Accessions Command, which oversees recruiting and training.

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