TAMPA — The war in Iraq is over and the United States is drawing down operations in Afghanistan. But the economic impact of MacDill Air Force Base has increased by $1.3 billion the past two years, say figures released by base officials Wednesday.
MacDill's economic impact on Tampa Bay was a robust $4.74 billion in 2014, with activity on the base creating nearly 25,000 jobs, according to MacDill's host unit, the 6th Air Mobility Wing.
That compares to $3.4 billion and 18,000 jobs in 2012. The biggest factor in the $1.3 million hike is an additional $660 million being paid to retirees and their spouses living within 50 miles of Tampa. The rest of the climb is tied to a hike in base payroll and in the total economic value of jobs created by the base.
Why the dramatic increase given the slowdown in overall Pentagon spending? It wasn't immediately clear, and Capt. Kathleen Ice, a MacDill spokeswoman, said she could not say with certainty. One potential explanation, she said, is a possible increase in the number of retirees and spouses earning benefits.
There were about 73,000 retirees and their spouses in the area in 2014. Comparisons with 2012 are not immediately available.
MacDill said the Air Force directly spent $729 million in the area in 2014. The base's military payroll is $743 million and its civilian payroll is $326 million.
While Pentagon spending is expected to dramatically decrease, MacDill is thought to be somewhat protected from the biggest cuts because it is home to two premier commands — U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command.
SOCom and CentCom spearheaded operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Contact William R. Levesque at email@example.com. Follow @Times_Levesque.