According to data collected by a non-profit organization, 64 percent of all recruits hailed from counties with median household incomes below the U.S. median.
A little over one-third were from counties with a higher median household income, according to data collected by the National Priorities Project and Peacework Magazine for the year 2004.
NPP found that the top 20 counties for military recruiting had a median household income below the national median household income, and 19 of them were lower than their state median incomes. Fourteen states account for the top 20 counties: Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.
Median incomes are derived from listing all the household incomes from highest to lowest and selecting the one exactly in the middle. It is different from an average.
According to NPP, 15 of the top 20 counties had higher poverty rates than the national average, and 18 of the top 20 had higher poverty rates than the state average.
The military is often considered a viable career path in places where economic opportunities are limited, including money for college. Service in the military makes recruits eligible for federal educational assistance and other benefits.
U.S. military officials involved with recruiting contend money is not the only reason people join the military. Military service also attracts those looking for an opportunity for public service, travel, and structure and discipline.