WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The number of recruits entering the U.S. Army with high school diplomas hit a new low last year, a research group reported.
From its Massachusetts headquarters, the National Priorities Project said the number of high school graduates among new recruits fell from 83.5 percent in 2005 to 70.7 percent last year, the Washington Post reported.
The Army's goal is a 90 percent graduate enrollment.
Using information acquired under the Freedom of Information Act, the war-opposed group also found low- and middle-income families supply many more Army recruits than families with incomes greater than $60,000 a year, the newspaper said.
"Once again, we're staring at the painful story of young people with fewer options bearing the greatest burden," said Greg Speeter, the project's executive director.
Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the recruiting command, said such factors as staffing two ongoing wars, a decline in the number of students graduating and economic competition for graduates were behind the changes.
"But we're not putting anyone in the Army that we don't feel is qualified to serve as a soldier," he told the Post.