The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update

by: Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier

November 28, 2011 |
Published Study

This study focuses on the employment effects of military spending versus alternative domestic spending priorities, in particular investments in clean energy, health care and education. We first present some simple alternative spending scenarios, namely devoting $1 billion to the military versus the same amount of money spent on clean energy, health care, and education, as well as for tax cuts which produce increased levels of personal consumption.

Our conclusion in assessing such relative employment impacts is straightforward: $1 billion spent on each of the domestic spending priorities will create substantially more jobs within the U.S. economy than would the same $1 billion spent on the military. We then examine the pay level of jobs created through these alternative spending priorities and assess the overall welfare impacts of the alternative employment outcomes. We show that investments in clean energy, health care and education create a much larger number of jobs across all pay ranges, including mid-range jobs (paying between $32,000 and $64,000) and high-paying jobs (paying over $64,000). Channeling funds into clean energy, health care and education in an effective way will therefore create significantly greater opportunities for decent employment throughout the U.S. economy than spending the same amount of funds with the military.

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