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Older jobless turn to Army

Aug. 11, 2009 at 1:54 AM

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The prolonged economic slump has sent unemployed workers, some in their 30s, to U.S. Army recruiting offices, recruiters in the Los Angeles area say.

Michael March, 38, signed up after months without work, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. He was laid off in November from a job in Oklahoma and returned to California to live with his father in Torrance where he finally found a job delivering pizzas.

March, who reports to boot camp this week, says he has been working out hard.

"I know I'm going to get picked on as the old guy in boot camp," he said. "I don't want to be last."

Across the country, 1,800 people who were at least 30 enlisted in the six months after Oct. 1, 2008, up 59 percent from the same period a year before.

Recruiters say the enlistees are better educated than volunteers have tended to be recently. As the Iraq War became unpopular, the military was having trouble recruiting high school graduates, but the slump is bringing in people with college degrees and even advanced ones.

"I've been a recruiter for four years, and I've never seen that before," Staff Sgt. A.J. Calderon, who commands the Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion, said. "This is definitely a good thing for the Army."

It was the fall-off in recruiting that made it possible for older people to enlist. The top age was raised to 42 in 2006.

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