Local News

War boosts Fayetteville economy

Posted August 8, 2008 5:04 p.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2008 6:57 p.m. EDT

— Hazardous-duty pay given to deployed soldiers led to Fayetteville posting one of North Carolina's largest gains in personal income in 2007.

Soldiers deployed from Fort Bragg to Iraq and Afghanistan earn about $150 extra each month – tax-free – in hazardous-duty pay, making war profitable for them and for Fayetteville businesses.

"I made a lot more money in the past three years than I would had I not been going to Afghanistan," Army Spc. John McGuire said. "I'd rather stay here and not make the extra money at this point."

Incomes linked directly to the military have doubled since 2001, from $2.6 billion to $5.1 billion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Per capita income in Fayetteville has increased 48 percent since 2001, from under $24,000 to more than $35,350 last year. It rose almost 8 percent last year alone, placing it 12th nationally in income growth.

"When people are getting paid more because of hazardous-duty pay, they're all coming back and spending it. Our businesses are all reaping the benefits. They're able to pay the employees a little bit better," said Kristie Lozano, vice president of the Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce.

“A lot of the soldiers have a lot of extra income, spendable income,” said Josh Jarrell, who recently moved to Fayetteville for the North Carolina National Guard. “You see a lot of nice apartments going up, a lot of real nice cars riding around. Some of the ones around here, with some of the soldiers that are driving them, they have to be from saved money.”

In addition to the extra pay for soldiers, base realignment is bringing an army of defense contractors to the area. As many as 40,000 people are expected to move to the region in the next few years.

"You have a lot of these folks – heavily trained – that are exiting the military at the rate of 7,000 annually. That's a lot of very, very (employable) people," Lozano said.

Jacksonville, home to Camp Lejeune, placed 20th nationally in income growth.