NYCFler.."what is going on here? why are ATCs so hard to recruit? any thoughts?"
It's not that ATCs are hard to recruit. It's the Dumb Ass FAA did NOT start hiring replacement ATCs 4 years ago when they should have. Based on historical data such as academic failures, OJT washouts, and those who choose not to continue, FAA should have hired about 5000 per year for the last 4 years. Yeah that would be 20,000. 75% of which will never become ATCs for whatever reason. A lot of today's ATCs are also moving on to management jobs, so that's not even a net gain of 5000. I don't have the number now, but if I recall correctly, 6000 are eligible to retire by September 2007
Granted this was many years ago, of the 12 in my class that made it to the facility for local training, 3 of us certified as ATCs.
Oh, by the way, air traffic is increasing as ATCS (ATCO) numbers are decreasing. The post 9/11 slump was mostly "passenger" numbers, not air traffic movement numbers. The biz jets and GA
kept flying, the military kept flying, and the box haulers kept flying. US Airways could go in the dumper tomorrow, and in 9 months our traffic count would be right back where it is today.
Better stop. I feel a rant coming on.
I don't understand everything I don't know about this.