Where Defense Spending Dollars Go: Top Ten States


A defense report, revised in March 2019 for fiscal year 2017, shows what states benefit the most from defense spending.

Please the US department of Defense report on Defense Spending by State for fiscal year 2017 as revised in March of 2019.

Conducted between June 2018 and November 2018, the analysis primarily entailed an examination of DoD prime and sub-contract award data and of defense personnel and payroll figures, which become reliable for analysis in March of each year. This report’s findings are drawn from numerous sources, including the DoD’s Defense Manpower Data Center; the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and Census Bureau; and USASpending.gov, which is managed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.


In FY 2017, DoD spent $407 billion on contracts and payroll in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, approximately $1,466 per U.S. resident. This spending accounted for 2.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, and was higher as a share of GDP than the $378.5 billion spent in FY 2016. Of these funds, $271.7 billion (67 percent) was spent on contracts for various products and services, while the remaining $135.3 billion (33 percent) paid the salaries of DoD personnel. Most contract spending went to supplies and equipment (51 percent) or services (38 percent). The remainder supported research and development (8 percent) or construction (3 percent). Personnel pay was allocated fairly equally amongst active duty military (41 percent), the National Guard and the Reserves (31 percent), and civilians (28 percent). With regard to total defense spending by state, funding varied from $393.6 million in Wyoming to $49 billion in California, averaging $7.98 billion per state. Almost 59 percent of that funding ($239.7 billion) went to 10 states.

If this funding is examined as a component of the states’ economies, a slightly different picture emerges. On average, defense spending accounted for 2.3 percent of all states’ GDP in FY 2017, ranging from 0.5 percent in Oregon to 8.9 percent in Virginia. The defense spending of $1.3 billion in Oregon, for example, was a small portion of its $240.7 billion GDP, while Virginia’s $46.2 billion in defense spending accounted for a relatively larger segment of its $517.6 billion GDP.

Top Defense Contractors

Top Spending Locations

There are 128 pages by state, down to the county level.

Vote Buying

This is how and why people support perpetual war.

Anyone who does not support perpetual war is labeled "weak on defense". And of course, no Congressmen ever turn down projects in their own district.

Finally, much defense spending is hidden. Homeland security costs are not considered "defense".

Perpetual War

In reality, hardly any of this spending is "defense". It's primarily "offense".

We need to make enemies to support perpetual war.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (35)
No. 1-12

Many countries used to have a "Ministry of War" instead of a Department of Defence. Labels and narratives change, but their activities are pretty similar. There would be something satisfying about having a Pompeo labelled as Secretary of War and Bolton as War Strategy counsellor . And when was there ever a war that was not launched pre-emptively against the aggression of the other party. Whenever was offense not the best defence?


Mish: Anyone who does not support perpetual war is labeled "weak on defense".

I didn't know late nite talk show host Stephen Colbert was a war hawk. He had no love for Tulsi Gabbard, when she appeared on his show.


There is no state of war. Defense spending merely keeps the economy going. As time goes by the US has become a more closed economy with government spending driving most of GDP. Without it there would be meager growth to speak of as defense spending is one of the few productive spending measures the government does.


A huge percentage of our national creative capacity, and the world's, is locked into "defense." Much of the rest is invested in lawyers and CPAs.

A very interesting and potentially instructive experiment was inadvertently conducted in the early 1990s at the end of the Cold War: 440,000 weapon systems development people were dumped on the street with no jobs. They promptly invented the web; No, it wasn't Al. I wish I had a better answer as to how we prevent the Tojo, Stalin, Hitler types plunging us into war than the fear of defeat., Maybe we have it already, in the form of Nukes. How much defense spending is too much? I don't think it's possible to know the answer until that line of tanks coming over the hill has the wrong markings on them; Then you know you've been spending too little.


In the Golden Years of budgets under the Eisenhower Administration, spending on defense was about 50% of the federal budget.

Today, spending on defense is about 16% of the federal budget. Entitlement spending is about 65% of the federal budget.