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Report: Military spending helped cushion local economy during pandemic

Official US Navy Imagery

The yearly military economic report shows the military accounts for hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region.

On a beautiful, sunny San Diego day, local leaders delivered some sunny news.

“As we come out of COVID, most people think there are downtrends. This report demonstrates that they’re not all down," said Retired Rear Admiral Jody Breckenridge.

Breckenridge joined other local leaders Wednesday at Naval Base Point Loma to present the San Diego Military Advisory Council’s 2021 report.


The top line takeaway? Military spending and the ripple effect from it helped the San Diego region to - mostly - dodge a bullet, economically speaking, from COVID.

"The government spends money on personnel, on retirees, on research and on manufacturing. And that continues regardless of where we are in the business cycle. And that helps then cushion San Diego during downturns," USD economics professor Alan Gin told KPBS.

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How much does military spending help? When it comes to jobs, a lot.
Nearly 350,000 jobs are traceable directly to the defense industry. There are about 110,000 active service members and 35,000 civilians employed by the military here.

Defense contracts accounted for an additional 200,000 jobs. 23% of the county’s total labor force works either directly or indirectly in service of the military.


People who’ve served in the armed forces often choose to retire here and they help a lot too… about 40,000 of them pump $2 billion into our economy every year.

And here’s the ripple effect of that military money; $35 billion in direct spending generates more than $55 billion, or a quarter of our region’s gross regional product.

“They didn’t lay off anybody in terms of the military. They had to keep on going to provide security... And the fact that we added jobs in the military helped offset some of the losses we saw in other areas," Gin said.

Report: Military spending helped cushion local economy during pandemic

From 1904 when the Navy opened a coal depot on San Diego Bay to today, the military and San Diego are more important to each other than ever.