New recruits who enlist in certain specialist roles for six years will be offered up to $50,000 in sign-on bonuses, Army Recruiting Command said on Wednesday.
Army sign-on bonuses were previously capped at $40,000. The $10,000 increase is a reflection of a competitive labor market and worker shortages caused by the pandemic, Major General Kevin Vereen, head of Army Recruiting Command, told the Associated Press.
“We are still living the implications of 2020 and the onset of COVID, when the school systems basically shut down,” said Vereen. “We lost a full class of young men and women that we didn’t have contact with, face-to-face.”
The pandemic has hindered the army’s ability to recruit at schools and other in-person events.
School closures have again crept up after a brief reprieve in late 2021, as an increasing number of schools have been shutting down over staffing shortages or Omicron concerns from certain districts.
The army’s recruiting goal fluctuates annually based on a combination of re-enlistments and new recruits.
Last year’s recruiting goal was 57,500, and Vereen said it will be about the same this year. The army employs more than 9,400 recruiters in total.
In the fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30, the Army spent more than $233 million on bonuses, with about 16,500 recruits getting an average enlistment bonus of more than $14,000.
Certain careers — such as missile defense crew, special forces, or signals intelligence — can often come with a maximum sign-on bonus.
“We’re in a competitive market,” said Vereen.
“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.”
Vereen did not offer comments on whether the highly divisive COVID-19 vaccine mandates have hampered recruiting efforts.