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Washington (CNN) -- Friday's government report showing a rise in unemployment shines a light on a new hurdle facing young people in need of work: The military isn't the reliable source of employment that it used to be. The Army and Marine Corps are getting smaller, and now there's a nearly year-long waiting list just to get into boot camp, no matter which branch you want to join.
The shrinking Army and Marine Corps are part of a long-planned reduction in the size of the armed forces.
But the backlog for enlistees is a new issue. Incoming recruits will spend quite a bit of time before they see a Pentagon paycheck.
"Some may take a year or slightly longer, the typical new enlistee would probably be somewhere between 9 and 11 months," Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith wrote in an e-mail.
A lot of it has to do with the economy.
"In a tighter job market, young men and women may be more receptive to learning about the many opportunities the military has to offer, from competitive salaries and compensation packages, extraordinary education benefits, to valuable job skills and leadership training," Smith said.
It's not just a tighter job market that has more people seeking to enlist. Defending America pays better than it used to.
"The average junior enlisted member, typically with just a high school degree, earns approximately $43,000 per year," Smith said. And that doesn't include benefits like free medical care and a government-paid retirement package that kicks in with 20 years of active-duty service.
Smith said that since the war in Afghanistan began, troop salaries and benefits have jumped significantly.
"From 2002-2010, military pay rose 42%, housing allowances have risen 83%," she said.
During the same time period, private-sector salaries rose 32%.
That, in some ways, is a good thing for the Pentagon, because it allows the services to choose...