Editorial: Military's impact on NM can't be overstated - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Military’s impact on NM can’t be overstated

We’ve always known New Mexico packs a mean military punch.

Our formidable installations at Kirtland, Holloman and Cannon air force bases, Melrose Air Force Range and White Sands Missile Range are essential to our nation’s defense.

They also pack a hefty economic punch.

A first-of-its kind report from the state shows our bases have contributed, on average annually, more than 52,000 jobs, $2.8 billion in annual labor income and $14 billion in industrial output. To put that in perspective, the state’s real Gross Domestic Product — the inflation adjusted value of all goods and services produced by labor and property — was $95 billion in 2021.

The recent report from the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s Office of Military Base Planning and Support, in partnership with the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, details how critical our military bases are to our state’s economy.

Kirtland AFB generated nearly $1.3 billion in labor income and about $6.2 billion in economic output in fiscal 2020, directly and indirectly employing more than 30,000 people. Holloman AFB accounted for nearly 7,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs; White Sands Missile Range had nearly 9,000. Cannon AFB and Melrose Air Force Range support about 6,400 direct, indirect and induced jobs.

Military personnel, excluding contract and civilian workers, made up 8% of the state’s overall nonfarm employment in 2020. That’s on the level of the 25,600 jobs across the state in mining, quarrying and oil and gas.

Just imagine if we had landed U.S. Space Command Headquarters, which would have benefitted from our synergy of military bases, national labs, research universities, private aerospace enterprises and a one-of-a-kind purpose-built spaceport. Losing Space Command HQ to Huntsville, Alabama, was a big missed opportunity for the state. But there will be future missions to shoot for, and we remain attractive to Pentagon brass, military families, civilian employees and retirees with our low cost of living, temperate climate, outdoor recreation opportunities and diverse cultures.

As Americans and as New Mexicans, we should remain appreciative of our military personnel here, and grateful for their essential economic contributions.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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