Jan 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

U.S. Army raises bonus cap for recruits to $50,000 amid COVID challenges

Photo of cadets walking in formation past safety equipment, including rope and a hard hat), in an outdoor camp
The U.S. Army's cadet summer training camp in Fort Knox, Ky., on July 20, 2021. The training event was canceled the previous year due to COVID. Photo: Jon Cherry/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Army has raised its bonus cap for recruits to $50,000 for the first time, a spokesperson told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The pandemic and labor market challenges have negatively affected recruitment in the last few years, with the number of recruits dropping from roughly 68,100 in 2019 to 57,600 in 2021. The new incentive is aimed at attracting more people into Army ranks amid uncertain variables.

Details: Until now, recruits could receive a maximum bonus of $40,000. The new package will be based on a combination of incentives offered for the selected career field, individual qualifications, the length of the enlistment contract and the ship date for training, according to the spokesperson.

  • Career-based incentives range from $1,000 up to $40,000 for "select occupations the Army needs to fill right now or finds difficult to fill because of the specific qualifications required," Brian McGovern, deputy public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, said in a statement.
  • These range from infantry and Special Forces to radar repairers, signal support systems specialists and truck drivers.

What they're saying: "We are still living the implications of 2020 and the onset of COVID, when the school systems basically shut down," Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, head of the Army Recruiting Command, told AP.

  • "We’re in a competitive market," Vereen added. "How we incentivize is absolutely essential, and that is absolutely something that we know that is important to trying to get somebody to come and join the military."
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