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How Much Land does the U.S. Military Control in Each State?

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How Much Land does the U.S. Military Own in Each State?

The United States spends an unparalleled amount of money on its military⁠—about $778 billion each year to be precise.

Additionally, the U.S. military also owns, leases, or operates an impressive real estate portfolio with buildings valued at $749 billion and a land area of 26.9 million acres⁠, of which around 98% is located within the United States.

This visual, using data from the Department of Defense (DoD) reveals how much of each state the U.S. military owns, leases, or operates on.

This map visualizes the share of a state comprised by military sites, which the Department of Defense defines as a specific geographic location that has individual land parcels or facilities assigned to it. The geographical location is leased to, owned by, or otherwise under the jurisdiction of the DoD.

What is Military Land Used For?

The DoD is the larger government umbrella under which the military falls and the department operates on over 26 million acres of land stateside.

To further break it down the U.S. military is divided into four main branches:

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Marine Corps

There is also the Space Force, the Coast Guard, and the National Guard. However, most of the land is dedicated to the Army, which is the military’s largest branch.

Military bases are used for training and housing soldiers, testing weapons and equipment, conducting research, and running active operations, among other things. A large majority of the square footage is actually designated for family housing.

For example, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is one of the most famous U.S. Army bases, is home to more than 260,000 people including the families of soldiers. The base, which is virtually its own city, is the largest U.S. Army installation with 53,700 troops—nearly 10% of the Army—and over 14,000 civilian employees.

Which States Have the Biggest Military Presence?

Looking at the largest total sites, the top 10 combined cover an astonishing 13,927,470 acres, larger than 10 individual states including New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Hawaii.

Here’s a look at the size of the military’s sites in each state and how much of that state’s land the sites take up:

StateSite (Acres)Share of State's Total Land
Hawaii228,6395.6%
Nevada3,541,9495.0%
New Mexico3,889,6385.0%
Arizona3,042,0284.2%
District of Columbia1,5253.9%
California3,655,1803.7%
Utah1,883,2343.6%
Washington941,1462.2%
Florida690,9942.0%
Maryland115,1581.9%
Georgia589,0601.6%
New Jersey71,8221.5%
North Carolina411,1521.3%
Virginia289,8151.2%
Texas1,690,7251.0%
Louisiana272,3571.0%
Massachusetts39,1070.8%
Colorado476,0560.7%
Kentucky180,8520.7%
Indiana160,1030.7%
Mississippi176,7450.6%
South Carolina109,9380.6%
Alaska2,057,3510.6%
Tennessee147,8390.6%
Alabama166,8000.5%
Oklahoma223,6320.5%
New York152,6110.5%
Wisconsin155,5000.5%
Rhode Island2,2800.3%
Delaware4,1700.3%
Kansas140,9730.3%
Arkansas88,0720.3%
Idaho136,3500.3%
Oregon140,2940.2%
Pennsylvania61,3230.2%
Missouri88,2400.2%
Vermont1,15200.2%
Ohio35,1500.1%
Maine18,7420.1%
Illinois31,1650.1%
North Dakota31,9370.1%
Iowa24,5060.1%
Montana56,9980.1%
Connecticut1,7530.1%
New Hampshire3,2250.1%
Wyoming31,9840.1%
Nebraska21,2720.04%
Michigan14,0040.04%
West Virginia3,0840.02%
South Dakota9,6810.02%
Minnesota2,7360.01%

In Hawaii, 5.6% of the state belongs to the military. The historic Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu is still an active base, housing both the Navy and the Air Force.

In the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., 3.9% of the small district is owned or operated on by the military—there are approximately 18 independent sites in the city.

Most of the DoD’s land is in the southwestern United States. One major benefit is that there are areas large enough in these states to test hugely destructive weapons without harming anyone. The atomic bomb was first detonated in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico at the White Sands Missile Range, the biggest military site in the country.

Almost all of the largest military sites fall under the Army branch, which has over 415,000 active personnel. Here’s a look at the U.S. military breakdown in terms of population:

  • Active Duty:
    • Army: 415,967
    • Navy: 304,118
    • Marine Corps: 146,728
    • Air Force (also includes Space Force): 273,983
    • Coast Guard: 38,829
  • Reserves: 438,645

Beyond just the presence of soldiers across the states, the military also represents a lot of jobs. In total, both on U.S. soil and globally the DoD provides nearly 2.9 million jobs from active duty troops to civilian positions within the military. In California, for example, the military provides over 62,000 civilian jobs.

U.S. Military Presence Beyond its Borders

When it comes to all the land that the military both owns and leases globally, the figure is huge, coming out to 26.9 million acres. The Army controls 51% of the DoD’s land, followed by the Air Force’s 32%.

Military land owned by the DoD can be found outside the U.S. in 8 territories and 45 foreign countries. Here’s a breakdown of where the majority of the U.S.’ foreign bases are:

  • 🇩🇪 Germany: 194 sites
  • 🇯🇵 Japan: 121 sites
  • 🇰🇷 South Korea: 83 sites

In places where there are ongoing conflicts, the U.S. has a few permanent forces. In regular times in Ukraine, there are 23 active duty soldiers permanently stationed. In Russia there are 41 active duty U.S. troops. However, President Joe Biden has recently announced that he will increase the U.S.’ military presence across Europe because of the war in Ukraine.

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Real Estate

Charted: U.S. Median House Prices vs. Income

We chart the ever-widening gap between median incomes and the median price of houses in America, using data from the Federal Reserve from 1984 to 2022.

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A cropped chart with the ever-widening gap between median house prices vs. income in America, using data from the Federal Reserve from 1984 to 2022.

Houses in America Now Cost Six Times the Median Income

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

As of 2023, an American household hoping to buy a median-priced home, needs to make at least $100,000 a year. In some cities, they need to make nearly 3–4x that amount.

The median household income in the country is currently well below that $100,000 threshold. To look at the trends between median incomes and median house prices through the years, we charted their movement using the following datasets data from the Federal Reserve:

Importantly this graphic does not make allowances for actual household disposable income, nor how monthly mortgage payments change depending on the interest rates at the time. Finally, both datasets are in current U.S. dollars, meaning they are not adjusted for inflation.

Timeline: Median House Prices vs. Income in America

In 1984, the median annual income for an American household stood at $22,420, and the median house sales price for the first quarter of the year came in at $78,200. The house sales price-to-income ratio stood at 3.49.

By pure arithmetic, this is the most affordable houses have been in the U.S. since the Federal Reserve began tracking this data, as seen in the table below.

A hidden caveat of course, was inflation: running rampant towards the end of the 70s and the start of the 80s. While it fell significantly in the next five years, in 1984 the 30-year fixed rate was close to 14%, meaning a significant chunk of household income went to interest payments.

DateMedian House
Sales Price
Median Household
Income
Price-to-Income Ratio
1984-01-01$78,200$22,4203.49
1985-01-01$82,800$23,6203.51
1986-01-01$88,000$24,9003.53
1987-01-01$97,900$26,0603.76
1988-01-01$110,000$27,2304.04
1989-01-01$118,000$28,9104.08
1990-01-01$123,900$29,9404.14
1991-01-01$120,000$30,1303.98
1992-01-01$119,500$30,6403.90
1993-01-01$125,000$31,2404.00
1994-01-01$130,000$32,2604.03
1995-01-01$130,000$34,0803.81
1996-01-01$137,000$35,4903.86
1997-01-01$145,000$37,0103.92
1998-01-01$152,200$38,8903.91
1999-01-01$157,400$40,7003.87
2000-01-01$165,300$41,9903.94
2001-01-01$169,800$42,2304.02
2002-01-01$188,700$42,4104.45
2003-01-01$186,000$43,3204.29
2004-01-01$212,700$44,3304.80
2005-01-01$232,500$46,3305.02
2006-01-01$247,700$48,2005.14
2007-01-01$257,400$50,2305.12
2008-01-01$233,900$50,3004.65
2009-01-01$208,400$49,7804.19
2010-01-01$222,900$49,2804.52
2011-01-01$226,900$50,0504.53
2012-01-01$238,400$51,0204.67
2013-01-01$258,400$53,5904.82
2014-01-01$275,200$53,6605.13
2015-01-01$289,200$56,5205.12
2016-01-01$299,800$59,0405.08
2017-01-01$313,100$61,1405.12
2018-01-01$331,800$63,1805.25
2019-01-01$313,000$68,7004.56
2020-01-01$329,000$68,0104.84
2021-01-01$369,800$70,7805.22
2022-01-01$433,100$74,5805.81

Note: The median house sale price listed in this table and in the chart is from the first quarter of each year. As a result the ratio can vary between quarters of each year.

The mid-2000s witnessed an explosive surge in home prices, eventually culminating in a housing bubble and subsequent crash—an influential factor in the 2008 recession. Subprime mortgages played a pivotal role in this scenario, as they were issued to buyers with poor credit and then bundled into seemingly more attractive securities for financial institutions. However, these loans eventually faltered as economic circumstances changed.

In response to the recession and to stimulate economic demand, the Federal Reserve reduced interest rates, consequently lowering mortgage rates.

While this measure aimed to make homeownership more accessible, it also contributed to a significant increase in housing prices in the following years. Additionally, a new generation entering the home-buying market heightened demand. Simultaneously, a scarcity of new construction and a surge in investors and corporations converting housing units into rental properties led to a shortage in supply, exerting upward pressure on prices.

As a result, median house prices are now nearly 6x the median household income in America.

How Does Unaffordable Housing Affect the U.S. Economy?

When housing costs exceed a significant portion of household income, families are forced to cut back on other essential expenditures, dampening consumer spending. Given how expanding housing supply helped drive U.S. economic growth in the 20th century, the current constraints in the country are especially ironic.

Unaffordable housing also stifles mobility, as individuals may be reluctant to relocate for better job opportunities due to housing constraints. On the flip side, many cities are seeing severe labor shortages as many lower-wage workers simply cannot afford to live in the city. Both phenomena affect market efficiency and productivity growth.

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