Report: Military adds $24.1 billion annually to SC economy

Marine Staff Sgt. Nathan A. Rodgers, senior drill instructor for Platoon 3017, Company M, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, leads his platoon during a final drill evaluation March 22, 2017, on Parris Island, S.C. Parris Island is one of the South Carolina bases that helps contribute more than $24 billion to the state's economy.


By JEFF WILKINSON | The State, Columbia, S.C. (Tribune News Service) | Published: April 19, 2017

The military pumps $24.1 billion into the state's economy each year, according to a new study by the University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business.

That's up from $19.2 billion reported in a study USC released two years ago.

The jump was attributed to the researcher, USC economist Joseph Von Nessen, casting a wider net for Department of Defense dollars. The net now includes pension and other compensation for veterans and retirees, Department of Defense civilian contracts, the G.I Bill, and other smaller Department of Defense allocations to organizations like the Savannah River Site, recruiting and the Corps of Engineers.

"They have a tremendous impact on the state," said Dan Beatty, a former Fort Jackson chief of staff who now serves as the chairman of the Columbia Chamber's military affairs committee.

In the Midlands, the economic impact is $4 billion; in Sumter, it’s $2.39 billion.

The new numbers were presented at a meeting of the S.C. Military Base Task Force held Wednesday at Joint Base Charleston

Previous studies have focused primarily on the eight military installations, including Fort Jackson, Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter and McEntire Joint National Guard Base near Eastover, as well as the S.C. National Guard.

The military also is responsible for 181,847 jobs in the Palmetto State, the study shows, or one out of every 12 jobs.

The study shows that there are 56,969 military retirees among the state's 417,515 veterans. The retirees bring in $1.6 billion in Department of Defense-funded retirement income. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides veterans with $1.9 billion in compensation and pensions and another $1.6 billion in medical care and veterans benefits.

The study noted that South Carolina has the 10th highest total Department of Defense personnel in the nation, and the ninth highest military retiree population.

The study warns that sequestration — the 2013 federal budget reduction plan — or a new round of Base Relocation and Closures could dramatically affect the dollars flowing into the state.

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