Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The rate at which eligible sailors re-enroll is down a few percentage points from last year, but still clears benchmarks the service set for retention, according to data released by the Navy
Overall retention of eligible sailors was 74 percent in Fiscal Year 2019, a dip from 78 percent from Fiscal Year 2018.
The Navy's numbers are broken up by zones based on the number of years sailors had been enlisted.
"Despite a strong U.S. economy, we have maintained excellent retention since FY-18, largely accomplished through our Sailor 2025 initiatives which are intended to provide Sailors with the choices, flexibility and transparency they have come to expect and could already receive from the private sector," said an administrative message preceding the results. "Our Sailors are proudly declaring that the Navy remains their employer of choice."
Those in Zone A -- that is, in their first six years of service -- re-enlisted at a rate of 64 percent, where those in Zone B -- who had six to 10 years of Navy service under their belts -- re-enlisted at a rate of 72 percent.
Sailors in Zone C, who had 10 to 14 years of service, re-enlisted at a rate of 85 percent.
Those numbers clear the benchmarks for each category
The Navy set a benchmark of 57 percent for Zone A, 67 percent for Zone B and 82 percent for Zone C.
Fleet Master Chief Wes Koshoffer told Military Times the decline stemmed from policy changes during previous years that hiked retention, including changes to physical readiness assessments and tenure policies.
"We are building the Navy the nation needs," said Vice Adm. John Nowell, chief of naval personnel. "These retention numbers signify that Sailors want to stay Navy. By retaining our best and brightest, we reduce recruiting and training costs and ultimately make us a better warfighting force."