States Where the US Military Spends the Most Money: All 50 States Ranked

In his January 1961 farewell address to the nation, President Dwight Eisenhower acknowledged that “an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience.” At the time of the speech, the Cold War was in its second decade, and Europe had only just recovered from the devastation of the Second World War. Now, over half a century later, the geopolitical context has changed considerably, but the veracity of the former president’s observation has not. 

The U.S. spent $877 billion on defense in fiscal 2022, more than the combined defense budgets of the next 10 countries with the highest military spending, including China, Russia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. 

While about a quarter of American military spending goes towards pay for military personnel, the bulk of it is spent on defense contractors – companies that perform a range of functions for the government, including weapons production, research and development, and maintenance and support services. The Pentagon spent nearly $400 billion on private contractors in fiscal 2021 alone, more than all other federal agencies combined.

Defense contractors, as well as military and civilian defense personnel, are spread across the country, and every year, money from the federal government flows into each of the 50 states.

Using data from the Department of Defense, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where the military spends the most money. States are ranked by total Defense Department spending on contracts and personnel payroll in fiscal 2021. 

Depending on the state, DOD spending ranges from about $476 million to over $60 billion. In several states, defense spending accounts for over 5% of overall economic activity. 

In most of the country, defense contractors account for over half of all Pentagon spending. Many of the states drawing in the most defense dollars are home to the operations of some of the largest military contractors in the world, including Boeing, Huntington Ingalls, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. These companies receive billions of federal dollars each year. (Here is a look at the largest weapons contracts of 2022.)

In other states, often home to large military bases, personnel payroll accounts for the largest share of Defense Department spending. Many of these states are home to large military bases, where thousands of troops are stationed. (Here is a look at the largest military base in every state.)

Click here to see states where the US military spend the most money.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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