The selection rate for promotion to staff sergeant plunged this year to 25.59 percent — the lowest rate in 16 years.
The Air Force Personnel Center on Thursday named 9,403 senior airmen selected for promotion to E-5, out of 36,739 eligible.
The last time the staff sergeant selection rate was this low was in 1998, when 22.65 percent of eligible senior airmen were selected for promotion. And the actual number of selectees this year is even lower than the 11,033 selected in 1998, which until now has been the worst year for staff sergeant promotions in recent memory.
Staff sergeant promotions are now far below the high they hit in 2001, when 20,793 senior airmen were selected, or 64.63 percent of those eligible.
Selection rates dropped from 40.68 percent in 2012 to 32.90 percent in 2013.
The average scores show that competition for promotions this year increased slightly from last year.
The average score for selectees this year is 291.91, slightly higher than the average 291.07 score from 2013.
This year’s average specialty knowledge test score of 66.03 is much higher than the average 63.48 score from last year, suggesting aspiring senior airmen hit the books hard this year.
The average time in grade is 2.03 years, slightly higher than the average 1.98 years from last year. The average time in service of 4.51 years remained unchanged from 2013.
The average decorations score this year was 0.99, nearly the same as the 0.98 decorations score from 2013.
But the average enlisted performance report score of 132.25 is actually down from last year’s average score of 131.84.
And promotion fitness examination scores fell considerably, from 64.77 in 2013 to 62.80 this year.
The staff sergeant promotions are coming earlier than usual this year because the Air Force moved the testing window up one month, to between April 1 and May 16. The Air Force moved the window to ensure that senior airmen who are selected for promotion will not have to face the enlisted retention board that convened June 16.
Some airmen objected when the testing window was moved in February because it shortened the amount of time they had to prepare. Others weren't bothered, and said having two months to prepare would be enough time.
Staff sergeant selection results are usually published in late July or early August.