While the recession saw declines across many sectors, defense-related jobs actually added nearly 27,000 jobs and billions to the economy in San Diego.
There’s no doubt that San Diego is a military town, with over 100,000 active-duty Navy and Marine Corps personnel stationed in the region and over 60 percent of the U.S. Pacific Fleet stationed there. But over the years it has seen an increase in private sector businesses as biotech, software and communications. As those sectors have taken hits over the past several years, however, defense spending has remained stable.
“The impact of the recession would have been a lot worse if not for growth in the defense industry,” said Marney Cox, chief economist at the San Diego Association of Governments. She cited the importance of the military in providing stability and increasing job growth, as well as defense contractors who generate competitive, sought after positions.
“The strategic value of the San Diego region cannot be overstated…The presence of Department of Defense facilities, personnel, and equipment generates an economic impact on the San Diego region that far outpaces other industries in the area,” said John Pettitt, President of the San Diego Military Advisory Council, which commissioned the study.
The Department of Defense spent approximately 18.2 billion in San Diego in 2009, the last year for which there is reliable data – that’s over two billion more than expected, and a 12.3 percent increase from fiscal year 2008.
DoD is the single largest employer in San Diego county, and defense investment in other areas has helped engineering, manufacturing and aeorospace industries ride out the recession. Manufacturing and professional/technical services top the list of business sectors most impacted by the defense investment in the region.
“Together, the impact of these activities is substantial, providing a relationship between San Diego and the military similar to that of New York and finance, Los Angeles and entertainment, and Houston and energy,” said the study.