May 2, 2018, Dan Cohen
Approximately five years after the closure of 23 installations in the 2005 BRAC round, 11 of the 20 affected communities had unemployment rates at or below the national average of 4.9 percent in 2016, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Seven communities had unemployment rates a little higher than the average — between 4.9 percent and 6.0 percent — and two had unemployment rates above 8.0 percent. The Portland-South Portland, Maine, statistical area — home of the former Naval Air Station Brunswick — recorded the lowest unemployment rate, 3.0 percent.
The closed installations were represented by only 20 communities because three closures were in the Atlanta region — Fort Gillem, Fort McPherson and Naval Air Station Atlanta — and two were in southern Mississippi — Naval Station Pascagoula and Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant.
Measuring the communities’ per capita income growth rates from 2006-2016 revealed a similar distribution — 11 closure communities had annualized real per capita income growth rates higher than the national average of 1.0 percent, with the other nine falling below 1.0 percent.
In many cases the analysis is too broad to draw any conclusions about the success of community efforts to recover, or replace the lost economic activity, following the BRAC 2005 closures. For installations located in larger statistical areas, the economic indicators don’t closely reflect the conditions in the surrounding community. And in a number of instances, redevelopment has not yet begun.
“While our assessment provides an overall picture of how these communities compare with the national averages, it does not isolate the condition, or the changes in that condition, that may be attributed to a specific BRAC action,” the report states.