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Where Defense Dollars Get Spent in the US: The Top 10 States

Michael Rainey

The Department of Defense spent $407 billion on contracts and payroll in the U.S. in 2017, equal to $1,466 per resident. And while that money was spread around the 50 states, it wasn’t shared equally. The Pentagon spent more money in California than any other state, according to a report released by the defense agency’s Office of Economic Adjustment.

The map below from the report shows which states claimed the largest share of defense spending.

California led the way with $49 billion, followed by Virginia ($46.2 billion), Texas ($37.7 billion), Maryland ($21.1 billion) and Florida ($19.2 billion). Washington ($15.2 billion), Connecticut ($15.0 billion), Georgia ($13.2 billion), Pennsylvania ($12.1 billion) and Alabama ($10.9 billion) rounded out the top 10.

Those 10 states claimed more than half of all spending, for a total of nearly $240 billion.


With $394 million, Wyoming claimed the smallest portion of defense spending. With the exception of Washington, states in the Northwest received relatively small amounts, with Oregon, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska claiming less than $400 million each.

States also varied considerably with respect to the importance of defense spending for their local economies. In Virginia, defense outlays made up 8.9 percent of the state’s GDP, the highest rank on that measure. Defense spending contributed more than 5 percent to state economies in Hawaii, Connecticut, Alaska, Maryland and Alabama. By contrast, Pentagon spending accounted for just 1.7 percent of state GDP in California.

The report also named the top defense contractors in 2017. Lockheed Martin topped the list with $30.5 billion in defense contracts, followed by Boeing ($22 billion), General Dynamics ($13.5 billion), Raytheon ($11.8 billion) and Northrop Grumman ($11.5 billion).

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