The Air Force will release a staff sergeant list Thursday that reflects the worst promotion rate in 15 years.
Just under 33 percent of eligible senior airmen were selected for promotion to staff sergeant in 2013, down from 40.68 percent in 2012.
Out of 34,078 eligible, 11,212 airmen were selected, according to the Air Force Personnel Center. Last year, 13,400 of 33,060 eligible senior airmen were selected.
The last time selection rate was this low was in 1998, when 11,033 senior airmen, or 22.65 percent of those eligible, were promoted. The 2013 numbers are a far cry from 2001, when 20,793 senior airmen, or 64.63 percent of those eligible, were promoted.
The poor staff sergeant promotion rate was foreshadowed last month when technical sergeant promotions fell to their lowest point since 1997, due to high retention. Experts said that would likely have a ripple effect depressing the promotion rate for aspiring staff sergeants. When current staff sergeants are passed over for promotion to technical sergeant, new slots are not opened up for senior airmen who wish to be promoted.
Competition for promotion was tough this year. The average score for selectees was 291.07 — the highest in at least five years, and well above the average 283.3 score in 2012.
This year’s selectees had an average time-in-grade of 1.98 years, and an average time-in-service of 4.51 years. That is higher than in 2012, when the average time-in-grade of 1.93 years and the average time-in-service of 4.45 years.
Selectees’ average promotion fitness examination score was 64.77, and the average specialty knowledge test score was 63.48.