Despite facing one of the largest recruiting deficits in years, the U.S. Army expects that it will nearly meet its recruiting goals by the end of its fiscal year in September, USA Today reports.
The Army recruited 44,241 soldiers in July -- missing its goal of 47,944 by more than 3,000. In May, the numbers were even more dire: The Army fell short of its goal by 5,222 soldiers, recruiting 33,382 total.
But a spokesperson for the U.S. Army said that by the end of August, the military branch expects to recruit enough members to reach 98.5 percent of its needed recruits. By the end of September, the Army expects to exceed its goal of 59,000 annual recruits.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, the Army’s top officer for recruiting, said that it can be difficult to attract new members when the economy is on the upswing. That’s because young people between the ages of 18 and 24 have access to more job opportunities, especially when the unemployment rate dips below 6 percent.
"It is a challenging mission, and we're not going to get around that," Snow told USA Today. "And there are indications that the economy is going to continue to improve. "
The Army has actually cut its personnel needs by about 40,000 soldiers over the next few years, settling on a full membership of about 450,000. But the Army still needs to recruit around 60,000 new members a year to meet its goals.
In the first 10 months of the Army’s 2015 fiscal year -- which ends in September -- Army recruiters scheduled 415,000 appointments with young men and women who expressed an interest in learning more about the military branch. Out of those appointments, a little more than 50,000 actually signed up. But for the same period in 2014, the Army had scheduled 371,000 appointments that resulted in 52,000 commitments.
"We made more appointments," Snow said. "We conducted more appointments. Yet there were fewer contracts achieved."