Study: Defense industry has $50.3 billion impact in Alabama

UAH study says industry provides almost 265,000 jobs across the state

Huntsville’s defense industry, including that done by Northrop Grumman, contributes billions to the Alabama economy. Northrop Grumman’s interceptor missile is pictured.

The total economic impact of military personnel and defense contracts across Alabama amounts to $50.3 billion, according to a new report.

The report, compiled by the University of Alabama in Huntsville College of Business, states the industry is responsible for providing 264,780 jobs across the state, with more than half of those in the Huntsville area.

The report uses numbers from the 2019 fiscal year. The study was funded by the Alabama Military Stability Commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth.

“From aerospace development in the Tennessee Valley to shipbuilding in the Gulf Coast and at all points in between, the defense industry is vital to Alabama’s economy and job creation efforts,” Ainsworth said.  “The numbers in this report make the irrefutable case that Alabama must preserve and expand the defense infrastructure already located here while also attracting new companies and assets, as well.”

The report divides the state into regions with a heavy military influence, led by the Redstone Arsenal Region in the Huntsville area with 143,000 jobs and $13.2 billion in payroll. That’s followed by the Fort Rucker Region with 29,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in payroll, the Maxwell/Gunter Region with 27,000 jobs and $1.9 billion in payroll and the Coastal Region with 21,000 jobs and just over $1 billion in payroll.

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The report shows, among other things, that Alabama’s aerospace sector has an economic impact of $17.4 billion and the Alabama National Guard has an economic impact of almost $2.5 billion. The U.S. Coast Guard and its Aviation Center in Mobile have an economic impact of $904 million, according to the study.

The Alabama Military Stability Commission, created in 2011, is a group of elected officials, cabinet members and regional appointees tasked with protecting and promoting the federal military presence in Alabama.

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