The number of uniformed military personnel stationed in Hampton Roads grew by 98 to 85,855 in 2015 (8.3% of regional employment). While this was only a negligible increase, it was the first increase since 2003. The number of DoD civilians in the region also increased, growing by 3,002 to 49,057 (4.8% of regional employment). When you include DoD contracts that are performed in the region, as well as the indirect and induced impact of the military in the region, total defense spending in 2015 supported an estimated 36% of all employment in Hampton Roads.
Hampton Roads has always had a sizable military presence, and is second only to San Diego in terms of total military personnel. As the nature of the U.S. Armed Forces has changed, so too has the defense presence in Hampton Roads. The number of military personnel continues to decrease as the requisite education and training levels increase, and more emphasis is placed on the use of technology.
In Hampton Roads the number of military personnel has fallen from its peak of 144,582 in 1969, when it represented 26.4% of direct regional employment, falling to just 8.3% of regional employment in 2015. While the number of personnel has fallen, Hampton Roads continues to build the highly advanced aircraft carriers and submarines, as well as maintaining other technical capabilities. The contribution of military contracts to regional employment has remained around 10% of total employment, even as regional employment has grown from 817,000 in 1987 to over a million in 2015.