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Which State Ranks Highest in Military Spending?

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Patrick O’Brien, director of the Defense Department’s Office of Economic Adjustment, spoke on a panel at the Brookings Institution in Washington about defense spending in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. He was joined by Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow and director of research for Foreign Policy at Brookings, and Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at Brookings.

Some facts from the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Spending by State Report, revised March 2019. It includes the District of Columbia.

  • In fiscal 2017, DOD spent $407 billion on contracts and payroll in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Of those funds, $271.7 billion, or 67 percent, was spent on contracts for products and services, while the remaining $135.3 billion (33 percent) paid the salaries of DOD personnel.
  • Total spending accounted to 2.3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product in 2017. GDP measures the total value of services provided and goods produced in the U.S. during a 12-month period.
  • On average, defense spending accounted for 2.3 percent of all states’ GDP in fiscal 2017, ranging from 0.5 percent in Oregon to 8.9 percent in Virginia.
  • If the total spending were divided up to every U.S. resident, it would amount to $1,466 per person.
  • Defense spending by state varied from $393.6 million in Wyoming to $49 billion in California, averaging $7.98 billion per state.
  • Almost 59 percent of that funding went to 10 states.
  • Personnel pay was apportioned 41 percent to the active duty military, 31 percent to the Guard and Reserves and 28 percent to civilian personnel, excluding contractors.

Top 10 States for Total Defense Spending
1: California, $49 billion
2: Virginia, $46.2 billion
3: Texas, $37.7 billion
4: Maryland, $21.1 billion
5: Florida, $19.2 billion
6: Washington, $15.2 billion
7: Connecticut, $15 billion
8: Georgia, $13.2 billion
9: Pennsylvania, $12.1 billion
10: Alabama, $10.9 billion

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