Characteristics of Active Component Accessions
Significant racial/ethnic differences exist among the Services, as shown in Table 2.5. Approximately 40 and 41 percent of Army and Navy accessions, respectively, are minorities, as compared to 32 percent of Marine Corps recruits and 31 percent of Air Force recruits. The overall percentage of minority recruits increased slightly from 36 percent in FY 1998 to 37 percent in FY 1999. The larger proportion of minority recruits generally mirrors the trend in the comparable civilian population.
Figure 2.2 illustrates the race/ethnicity distribution of enlisted accessions for the 26-year period, FYs 19731999.  Understanding the race/ethnicity profiles requires some explanation of events during the years up to 1985, before describing the current situation. The percentage of minority enlisted accessions increased, with some fluctuations, during the years following the end of conscription. The number of Black accessions peaked in FY 1979. Hispanic accessions also peaked in FY 1979 (ignoring aberrant data for FY 1976). Accessions of "Other" minorities, a very small proportion of new recruits, have generally shown a gradual increase from less than 1 percent in FY 1973 to nearly 7 percent in FY 1999. The increase of minorities coincided with a miscalibration of the ASVAB, and consequent drop in the aptitude of accessions, both Whites and minorities, beginning in January 1976. The miscalibration led to erroneous enlistment of many low-scoring applicants. Thus, representation of minorities, particularly Blacks (whose test scores, on average, are generally lower than those of Whites), increased during the miscalibration period. The error was corrected by September 1980. 
Revised AFQT and education standards in the early 1980s limited the high minority representation levels of the late 1970s.  By FY 1983, the proportion of Black recruits had returned to approximately the same level as before the test scoring error (18 percent Blacks in FY 1975). By the mid-1980s, a gradual increase had resumed. Not until FY 1987 did Hispanic recruit levels return to FY 1975 proportions. Higher high school dropout rates among Hispanics (30 percent), compared to Whites and Blacks (8 and 14 percent, respectively), confound the recruitment of qualified Hispanic applicants.  The Services have accessed a greater proportion of Hispanics each year since FY 1985, when less than 4 percent of enlistees were Hispanic. Today, nearly 11 percent of enlistees are Hispanic.
Figure 2.2. Race/ethnicity of Active Component NPS accessions, FYs 19731999.
Blacks. In FY 1999, Blacks comprised nearly 20 percent of enlisted recruits, approximately 6 percentage points more than in the civilian population (14 percent). The Army continues to have the highest percentage of Black accessions, 24 percent in FY 1999. In the aftermath of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and in the midst of the drawdown (FY 1991), there were lower proportions of Black recruits than in previous years. FYs 1992 to 1999 have seen slight increases most years toward pre-drawdown levels of 21 percent Black accessions. In FY 1999, there was a slight increase in Black enlistees.
While Black men comprise nearly 18 percent of DoD male recruits, Black women make up more than 29 percent of female recruits (Table 2-5 and Appendix Table B-3). Black women in FY 1999 comprised 36 percent of Army female recruits, 27 percent of Navy female recruits, 19 percent of Marine Corps female recruits, and 25 percent of Air Force female recruits. In comparison, the proportion of Black men ranged from 13 percent of Marine Corps male recruits to 21 percent of Army male recruits.
Hispanics. As the proportion of Hispanics has been increasing in the civilian population, so has the proportion of enlisted Hispanics. However, Hispanics were underrepresented among enlisted accessions in FY 1999, 11 percent of recruits compared to 15 percent of civilian 18- to 24-year-olds. The Marine Corps had the highest proportion of Hispanic accessions (14 percent) in FY 1999, followed by the Army, Navy, and Air Force (11, 11, and 7 percent, respectively).
The proportion of Hispanic accessions has increased over the years (Appendix Table D-7). In FY 1983, less than 4 percent of new recruits were Hispanic. Today, nearly 11 percent of enlisted accessions are Hispanic. One factor influencing the representation of Hispanics in the military is high school graduation rates; Hispanics are less likely to earn a high school diploma than those in other racial/ethnic groups.  In FY 1999, 59 percent of 18- to 24-year-old Hispanics completed high school (Tier 1) or earned an alternative credential (Tier 2) compared to 73 percent of Blacks and 84 percent of Whites.
In contrast to Black females, Hispanic females are slightly less represented among female recruits than Hispanic men are among male recruits. Approximately 11 percent of NPS accessions are Hispanic; 11 percent of male recruits and 10 percent of female recruits are Hispanic.
"Other" minorities. Members of "Other" racial minorities (e.g., Native Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders) are approaching 7 percent; they are slightly overrepresented in the Services. The proportion of "Other" minorities ranges from 5 to 10 percent in the Services, with the Navy having the largest percentage. In the civilian population, 5 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are "Other" racial minorities, an increase of more than 2 percentage points since FY 1981.
 Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower, Reserve Affairs, and Logistics), A Report to the House Committee on Armed Services: Aptitude Testing of Recruits (Washington, DC, 1980).
 Congressional Budget Office, Social Representation in the U. S. Military (Washington, DC, 1989), p. 54.
 See U.S. Department of Education, The Digest of Education Statistics 1999 (NCES 2000-031) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2000), Table 108.
 See U.S. Department of Education, The Condition of Education 2000 (NCES 2000-062) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2000), p. 56; U.S. Department of Education, Dropout Rates in the United States 1998 (NCES 2000-022) (Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2000), pp. 16-17; and previous Population Representation reports.