The Navy's economic impact on Hampton Roads surpassed $10 billion for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2015, increasing by about $770 million over the previous year, according to figures released Wednesday by Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.
The report compiles the amount of capital infused directly into the local economy based on salaries, expenditures and contractual payments for services that support the region's naval bases.
This is the first time in three years that the Navy's direct economic impact on the region has passed the $10 billion mark. Since then, the Navy's economic impact has rebounded, though it remains below the nearly $15 billion in 2011, when the service had 87 ships homeported in the region and 83,095 active-duty personnel.
The latest report showed 65 ships homeported in the region, down from 70 the previous year. That figure includes the transfer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt from Norfolk to San Diego and the decommissioning of the USS Norfolk and USS Elrod. Two destroyers, including the USS Ross and USS Porter, also moved to Rota, Spain, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Beth Baker said.
Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance, said factors including sequestration and the Navy's shift in recent years to a 60-40 split favoring the West Coast helps account for a downshift in recent years in the Navy's economic impact on the region. But he called Wednesday's report a "reaffirmation of the vital role the military's presence is" to Hampton Roads.
This year's report also shows growth in the overall number of active-duty, civilian employees as well as military personnel and their families -- a figure that includes all active-duty, reservists, retirees and family members -- to 72,136, 49,240 and 241,685, respectively. The previous year's report counted 70,277 active-duty, 46,247 civilian employees and 230,407 total military and family. But among those increases, the number of estimated civilian contractors declined slightly from 14,050 in fiscal 2014 to 13,795 in fiscal 2015.
At the same time, annual payroll for military and civilian workers increased to $8.9 billion in fiscal 2015 from $8.3 billion in the previous year. Spending on goods and services -- a figure that includes contracts for ship construction and repair, maintenance, utilities, supplies and other services -- increased by more than $200 million in the previous year for a total $1.6 billion in fiscal 2015.
Even with the decline in the number of ships homeported in the region, increases in payroll, spending and workforce tallies lift expectancy for overall economic growth in the region, Robert McNab, an economist at Old Dominion University's Strome College of Business, said.
"This is good news for the Navy and its good news for Hampton Roads in terms of buoying economic growth," McNab said, adding that it "illustrates the importance" of the region to the Navy's strategy.