Budget cuts have taken their toll on the Air Force Academy and its overall economic impact to the community. Last year at this time, the Academy trumpeted its largest economic impact – $999 million, very close to $1 billion.
This year, the AFA reports an economic impact of $898.8 million, still an impressive number. But the newest figures include the economic impact of major academy events – Parents’ Weekend, Graduation Week and cadet in-processing. Including those events adds nearly $40 million to the 2012 figures.
Part of the decrease is due to smaller construction budgets, but the AFA is also employing fewer people. According to 2011 numbers, there were 12,797 people – civilians, reserve and active duty – employed at the AFA. In 2012, that number dropped to 12,261, including a drop of civilian employee by about 125 jobs. Total payroll for both groups was about $346.1 million in 2012, compared to $416.7 million the year before. Construction was still a big number, $129.1 million in 2012, but still not as high as the $168.5 million reported in 2011 – a factor from the budget cuts dealt to the DoD construction budget.
The AFA still created secondary jobs in the local economy. According to the report, the 4,114 active-duty jobs create 663 indirect jobs, while the different classifications of civilian positions create indirect jobs totaling 1,911 positions. The reserve component adds 658 secondary jobs, according to the latest report. Those positions pay an average of $58,000 and bring a total of $189 million to the local economy.
And it’s still a major tourist attraction. The combined activities that bring parents and friends to the academy every year bring a total of $37.8 million, including dining out, nights in hotel rooms and sales tax revenue. Cadet in-processing every summer brings a total of $2.7 million to the local economy, according to the report.