Economic impact of military presence in S.C. reaches $24.1 billion

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The South Carolina Military Base Task Force (Task Force) will be releasing an updated study, which reflects that the South Carolina military community collectively creates an economic impact to the state of $24.1 billion. The 2017 study was prepared by Dr. Joey Von Nessen of the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. The Palmetto State is home to eight major military installations and numerous facilities, supporting 62,520 in Department of Defense (DoD) personnel with $2.6 billion in payroll. Additionally, $2.1 billion in DoD contracts is currently being executed among 752 firms within the state.

The 2017 study reports that the military community represents 8.4 percent of the South Carolina economy, composed of 181,847 jobs, or one of every 12 jobs in the state. The average compensation for jobs supported by the military community is $54,701 per year, 37 percent higher than the average job.

"A very large contributor to our military-friendly reputation and its accompanying positive economic impact is the presence of 417,515 military veterans," said Howard Metcalf, S.C. director of Veterans' Affairs and a member of the Task Force. "The Veteran's Administration (VA) has said there are perhaps twice that many veterans in the state because that count only includes those who have applied for services."

"Among those veterans are 56,969 retirees who annually bring $1.6 billion in DoD-funded retirement income into the state, and the VA contributed another $1.9 billion in compensation and pensions," said Dan Beatty, a recently retired Army Colonel and member of the Executive Committee of the Task Force, who established his post-military career in the Palmetto State.

"A large number of those retirees have second careers and bring tremendous experience and skills to the state workforce," he said.

According to Dr. Von Nessen, access to a large supply of highly-skilled workers will be especially needed in 2017.

"One of the less-known benefits of the military community to South Carolina is the pool of skilled workers it provides to the state," said Dr. Von Nessen. "South Carolina's labor market has tightened considerably within the last year, and, with an unemployment rate under five percent and employers continuing to expand, access to these skilled veterans is crucial for maintaining our current healthy rate of economic growth."

The 2017 report estimates the annual South Carolina state tax revenue generated by the military community is approximately $884.1 million.

"South Carolina is blessed with a significant number of important economic engines, including the S.C. Ports Authority, tourism and great manufacturing, such as BMW, Boeing and Michelin, to name a few," said Task Force Chairman Bill Bethea. "Given the enormous impact of the military community on our economy, as evidenced by the 2017 report, the military presence surely is one of the leaders in that category."

The full text of the 2017 report will be made available on the Task Force web site Thursday, April 20 at