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Need a job? The military is hiring

When the going gets tough, the tough start recruiting.

Harder.

A downturn in the nation’s economy has made military service more attractive to job hunters. Job security, a steady paycheck and good benefits often outweigh the fact that the United States is currently involved in two conflicts on foreign soil – one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan.

The Army announced it had enlisted 80,000 new soldiers last fiscal year; the third straight year it has met recruiting goals, according to an article published in The Washington Post in November.

During that same period, hopes of finding a good paying job took a turn for the worse. Unemployment has climbed from 4.8 percent to 6.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seeking to shore up credit-strapped businesses, employers slashed over 500,000 jobs in November alone, according to the government.

Staff Sgt. Jerry Shore, Army recruiter in Andalusia, said the economy is having its effect on the military’s recruiting efforts.

Just not in south Alabama.

“To be honest we’ve remained about steady,” said Shore, a Pell City native who has been stationed in Andalusia for a year. “We’ve never had a problem recruiting this area. But I have heard from some who say ‘man, I just can’t find work.'”

Shore said he is required to sign-up four to five enlistees per month by the Army, a goal he hasn’t failed to reach yet. He draws recruits from Covington, as well as Butler County.

“Sometimes we’ve exceeded that number,” he said. “What the Army has going for it now is that we do have jobs. We can put people to work.”

Deployment to a combat zone is a concern for some, but not so for others, said Shore.

“I can’t tell a recruit they’re not going to get deployed,” he said. “What I can tell them is it depends on what job they have and what unit they’re assigned to.”

Plus reports that U.S. casualties are down in Iraq and President-Elect Barack Obama’s pledge to withdraw forces from the Mid-Eastern country have encouraged more recruits.

Along with a potential enlistment bonus of $40,000, the Army also offers the same benefits it’s always had: free health care, housing, and three meals a day. Additionally, the new G.I. Bill, which will be fully implemented in August 2009, covers college tuition and provides a monthly stipend check for soldiers pursuing degrees.

The Army hopes to grow by an additional 65,000 soldiers in 2010, according to The Post.