The 911th Airlift Wing near the Pittsburgh airport has been a staple of Western PA since it was transformed from a farm field to an aircraft refueling stop in 1943. Decades later, it retains an important role in both the U.S. military and Pennsylvania as a whole. The 911th has positively impacted the local and statewide economy for years, and despite threats of closure, it has continued to persevere as a driving force for the Pittsburgh job market.
While those involved with and impacted by the base have long been aware of how it positively affects the local economy and job market, a year-long study by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) has finally provided hard data on just how much of a role the 911th (and Pennsylvania’s other military installations) serve in generating money and careers in Allegheny County and beyond.
Here are some of the findings:
Fueling the Economy
In 2016, the 911th generated over $217 million in economic output for the state of Pennsylvania. The effects were both direct and indirect – in addition to the government and military industries experiencing the positive economic impact of the base, other industries also benefitted from the employees’ spending habits in the region. For example, eating and drinking establishments alone saw nearly $2 million in economic output as a result of the 911th’s presence in the area. Other industries, such as real estate, transportation, construction, and hospitals, have also received millions of dollars because of the airlift wing.
A Steady Source of Jobs
Employment in the Pittsburgh area is up thanks to the 911th. The base has directly created over 500 full-time jobs in Allegheny County and many more part-time equivalent jobs. Many of the base’s employees are members of the military, with 54 active duty and almost 1,200 reserve service members, but there were also almost 400 civilian employees working at the base in 2016.
Just as the money that the base generates extends beyond the base itself, so does the job market. When the study was conducted, over 160 jobs had been created in the “locally serving industries” that include real estate, medicine and health, and food service. The 911th doesn’t just put money back into the PA economy – it gives Allegheny County residents a reliable source of income to provide for themselves and their families.
The Fight To Remain
Despite the 911th’s massive positive impact on the local job market and economy (as well as its service as a useful military base), it has faced the threat of closure multiple times over the years. It was first nominated for inactivation in 1995, but was saved after the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommended keeping it open, citing its low operating costs and ability to “accommodate all types of aircraft.”
Ten years later, the Department of Defense (DoD) once again considered closing the 911th, but a second recommendation from BRAC to keep it open gave it a fighting chance. The base remains open today, and the Military Affairs Council continues its work to ensure that Pittsburgh’s airlift wing remains as a crucial part of our country’s incomparable military force.
A Huge Piece Of The Pittsburgh Puzzle
The 911th airlift wing is more than a point of pride for military supporters in Western PA – it’s a vital part of the local economy. Its direct and indirect impact on Pittsburgh industries and individuals is part of what makes Pennsylvania so great. The numbers don’t lie: the 911th is a base that we can’t afford to lose.