The amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego returns to its homeport of Naval Base San Diego in May. Navy photo

An annual economic report on the impact of the U.S. military on San Diego finds that growing defense-related activity offset declines in other economic sectors during the pandemic.

The report by a team from the Rady School of Management found that defense-related economic activity grew 5.4% during the federal government’s fiscal year ended Sept. 30 to a total of $55.2 billon.

The Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and other branches of the military currently employ 111,000 active-duty men and women and support an additional 230,000 civilian jobs in San Diego County.

All together, defense-related activities account for 25% of the region’s economy.

“While the pandemic subjected our nation’s economy to significant turmoil and uncertainty over the past two years, San Diego benefitted from the stabilizing effect of our region’s large military economic contribution,” according to the report prepared for the San Diego Military Advisory Council, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for the military community.

Among the findings of the report:

  • The region received $18.5 billion in defense contracts divided among 1,700 companies.
  • General Atomics, Northrop Grumman, NASSCO and BAE Systems were the largest recipients of contract funding with a combined 43% of the total.
  • San Diego is the home port for 24% of the Navy’s fleet. There were 72 ships here in the last fiscal year, and five more are expect to arrive in the current year.
  • Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego trains as many as 18,000 new Marines every year.
  • San Diego County is home to 40,000 retired military personnel whose benefits and second careers benefit the local economy.

Mayor Todd Gloria thanked SDMAC for producing the report, noting that “the military
community is intrinsic to the fabric of San Diego.”

“As our city continues to build back better and more equitably from the COVID-19 pandemic, this report underscores just how important the military presence is here in San Diego and the role it plays in strengthening our city,” Gloria said.

The annual report, which was released last week, is intended to measure the impact of federal defense spending, veteran benefits, and military community involvement on San Diego’s economy.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.