That’s according to a first-of-its kind report released Monday by 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.

“This analysis shows that these installations and the employees who work there – both active and retired – are vital as we grow our economy and maintain our quality of life so families stationed in New Mexico or those who come here for a military career want to remain in New Mexico after they retire,” said EDD Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes in a statement.

By the numbers

Among the findings outlined in the report were “direct,” “indirect” and “induced” jobs created through New Mexico’s five military installments – Kirtland Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, Cannon Air Force Base, Melrose Air Force Range and White Sands Missile Range – as well as the industrial output of those sites.

Direct employment figures include those of base personnel – active-duty, civilian and contractors. Indirect employment figures look at businesses that support base operations – for example, a local business that provides supplies to a base – and the number of workers that business employs to support that relationship. Induced employment figures include businesses that support the spending of military base personnel, as well as indirect businesses and their employees.

Kirtland Air Force Base directly employed nearly 23,000 people in fiscal year 2020. About 7,400 jobs came indirectly through business-to-base partnerships and through induced business extensions, according to the report. And the base generates nearly $1.3 billion in labor income and about $6.2 billion in total economic output, making it the largest driving force of any military installation in the state.

Moreover, Kirtland Air Force Base accounted for 57% of overall jobs numbers amongst the installments outlined in the report.

Holloman Air Force Base accounted for nearly 7,000 directly, indirectly and induced jobs, and White Sands Missile Range for nearly 9,000 jobs overall, according to the report. The bases have a combined output of nearly $6 billion.

In contrast, Cannon Air Force Base and Melrose Air Force Range support about 6,400 direct, indirect and induced jobs and generate more than $400 million in labor income and more than $2 billion in output.

The number of jobs across New Mexico’s military cluster has largely impacted the industrial output of other industries as well.

For instance, homeownership tied to employment on military installments has contributed to $161 million in industrial output to the state. Nearly $77 million in industrial output for hospitals is also contributable to the military presence, the report shows.

The report also touched on New Mexico’s veteran presence. About 141,558 veterans are spread across the state’s 33 counties. Bernalillo County had the largest number of veterans, with slightly more than 47,000, according to the report.

The report shows New Mexico’s veterans largely outpace non-veterans in income. According to the report, veterans in New Mexico make $164 to every $100 made by non-veterans.

Omar Solis, an economist with BBER who authored the report, said veterans likely acquire skills through the military that better position themselves for economic success.

“Not only do you develop skills from an early age in the military,” Solis said, “when you leave the military, you’re given supplemental income to attend school to develop more skills.”