WASHINGTON — California topped the list of states receiving defense dollars in 2019, a period in which overall Pentagon contracts and payroll spending in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., totaled $550.9 billion, the Department of Defense revealed Wednesday.

Of that total, $403.9 billion (73 percent) were from contracts, with the remaining $146.9 billion (27 percent) tied up in DoD personnel salaries. Overall, defense spending represented 2.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to a department statement accompanying the data.

The numbers, released annually, are generally included in the case made by pro-defense lawmakers and Pentagon supporters for the benefits of a large defense budget. They come as defense spending is expected to be flat, with some progressives in Congress pushing President-elect Joe Biden to cut defense funding to support social programs instead.

“The report compiled by the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation can be a great tool to state and local officials,” Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said in a statement. “All of our work is aimed at supporting the National Defense Strategy and this report is key as we look to continue defense reform and modernization efforts.”

The top 10 states are:

  • California: $66.2 billion
  • Virginia: $60.3 billion
  • Texas: $54.8 billion
  • Florida: $29.8 billion
  • Maryland: $26.1 billion
  • Connecticut: $19.7 billion
  • Pennsylvania: $18.1 billion
  • Washington: $17.8 billion
  • Alabama: $16.0 billion
  • Massachusetts: $15.8 billion

California, Virginia and Texas historically rank among the top states in defense dollars. California is home to a significant aerospace presence, with all the major players in that sector bringing in large chunks of cash for their in-state work.

Virginia’s top firm was the major shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries, but the state largely brought in funding for being the corporate home for many major defense firms — and for their lobbying efforts. And 41 percent of Texas’ total comes from Lockheed Martin contracts; the company’s Fort Worth facilities produce the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, among other materiel.

The top 10 overall contractors for the year were:

  • Lockheed Martin: $45.6 billion
  • Boeing: $25.7 billion
  • Northrop Grumman: $19.5 billion
  • General Dynamics: $18.6 billion
  • Raytheon: $15.7 billion
  • United Technologies: $10.3 billion
  • BAE Systems: $7.3 billion
  • Huntington Ingalls Industries: $6.7 billion
  • Humana: $6.7 billion
  • L3 Technologies: $4.9 billion

Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.

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