Report: San Diego economy buoyed by defense spending during recession

Most never tire of pictures of sailors and Marines back from deployment to the joy of loved ones. What gets less attention is the economic impact the military has on the region. And that was never more important than at the height of the recent recession.

In fiscal 2009, the last year for which such statistics were available, the defense industry in San Diego created 26,547 jobs, according to a report released Wednesday by the San Diego Military Advisory Council.

Overall, jobs involving armed forces and supporting industries amounted to 354,367, which is roughly 26% of all jobs in San Diego County.

In 2009, Defense Department spending in San Diego was $18.2 billion. When you add up the ripple or trickle down effect of this direct spending, the figure jumps to $30.5 billion.

“So the Marines, whether you see them off the coast of Libya or participating in rescues in Japan,” said MajGen Anthony Jackson of Marine Corps Installations West,  “or the headlines in Afghanistan, or rescuing people from pirates off Somalia, they all got their graduate training in this area.”

In January, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that the Pentagon would cut spending by $78 billion over the next five years. But the impact of such cuts here is expected to be limited because of San Diego's strategic location.

The Defense Department continues to concentrate military resources in San Diego because areas of current and potential conflict involve the Middle East and Asia, not Europe.

“I think the report really quantifies how important San Diego is,” said RADM William French of Navy Region Southwest.  “If you look at five years ago, defense decided that 60 percent of our Navy assets need to be here in the Pacific.”

Categories: KUSI