NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- For months on end, the economic news here in Hampton Roads -- as it relates to the military -- has been pretty grim. There have been hundreds of layoffs at the area's private shipyards, and more may yet be coming.
But a new report from the Navy shows robust spending in the region.
"Overall, it was very good news, no question about it," said Peter Shaw, professor of Business Management and Administration at Tidewater Community College.
Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic's annual regional economic impact report has a number of encouraging findings.
Year to year from October 1st, 2014 to September 30th, 2015:
- The total Navy impact in Hampton Roads is up by $770 million (7.8 percent).
- Annual payroll is up by $500 million (6.8 percent).
- Total spending, or procurement for goods and services is up by $200 million (14 percent.).
- The total number of active duty personnel is up 2.7 percent.
- The total number of military and family members is up 4.9 percent.
- The total number of civilian employees is up 6.5 percent.
"Yes, I was surprised, pleasantly," said Shaw. "Now we've got to see what's going to happen in '16 and '17, with a new president and changes in Congress. You may have a totally different Congress come January, so it will be interesting to see what happens."
There are a few red flags in the report,. Chief among them is a decline in the number of ships home-ported here. That figure is down from 70 ships to 65.
That's because the USS Theodore Roosevelt moved to San Diego, the USS Ross and the USS Porter moved to Rota, Spain, and the USS Elrod and USS Norfolk were decommissioned.
Shaw said those changes -- coupled with the possible return next October 1st of automatic, arbitrary 10 percent sequestration budget cuts -- are concerning.
"You need to have a stable funding mechanism. I'm hoping that the jerkiness that's going on in Congress ceases," he said.