Those Who Serve
Differences exist at the regional level as well. In 2013, 44% of all military recruits came from the South region of the U.S. despite it having only 36% of the country’s 18-24 year-old civilian population.
On the above map, some of the lowest rates of state-by-state enlistment are in New England and the Northeast, Maine notwithstanding. The Northeast of the U.S. was the most underrepresented region of the country for recruitment in 2013: Despite having 18% of the 18-24 year-old civilian population only 14% of new enlistments came from this area.
Among the more interesting of Heritage’s results were the economic backgrounds of the enrollees, which were less skewed towards the poor as we might think. Unfortunately, BI just looked at states. It is likely that the socioeconomic profile changes as the military’s needs do. The more soldiers that are needed, the lower the standards have to be, and the lower the standards are, downward on the SES scale the average enlistee is. And wartime changes the profile, I’m sure, though I’m not sure how much or in what direction.
But comparing what we can, state-by-state data, what are the similarities and differences? There are more similarities than differences. Red states tend to be more represented than blue, though with low numbers for North Dakota and Utah and high numbers for Maine. High representation in the South (Louisiana excepted), and low representation in the Northeast (Maine excepted).
There are some differences, however. Montana has gone from a high-representation state to a mid-range state. This most likely relates to the increased economic opportunities for high school graduates either in Big Sky Country or next door in North Dakota (which was then, as is now, a very low-rep state). I don’t know why Mississippi would go from a blow-average to above-average state, so I would guess it is either less economic opportunity in the Gulf (pollution’s hand in the fishing economy, the drilling moratorium) or just statistical noise. Nevada is a curious case, as their economy was stronger in 2007 than it is now, but enlistment rates have fallen from among the highest in the country to something closer to mid-range.
Regionally, North West Central has joined New England as the least enlisted (probably relating to other economic opportunities) while the South Atlantic (Florida up to Maryland) has overtaken West South Central (Texas and company) as the most-enlisted region. Perhaps related to more opportunities in Texas and Florida’s housing bust, or perhaps something else.