It looks like the never-ending Department of Defense gravy-train has paid off in some very tangible ways: The Economist just released an infographic showing that it is the world’s largest employer. Military Industrial Complex indeed: the DoD employs 3.2 million people, compared to 2.3 million people in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the next closest. In terms of context, that is 1% of the entire American population and over 2% of the labor force.
In spite of being the largest employer in the world, many within the organization and on the right say that the US military is still not big enough and repeatedly push for bigger funding outlays. Indeed, employment is not the only thing that’s exploded for the DoD in recent years, as the US has fought two wars that have cost upwards of $3 trillion.
One of the biggest problems with having so much employment tied to one expensive department is that cutting funding for the military might significantly increase the unemployment rate. The Associated Press reports that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has urged members of Congress to fight cuts to his department because they would likely increase national unemployment by 1%.
Unfortunately, this puts progressives in a bit of a bind. With the debt panel Super Committee getting into super-high-gear, they stand to look like they either support high unemployment or high war spending. Of course, they could always try something really revolutionary like using all of the billions wasted on private war contractors to shore up employment among laid-off teachers and public employees. But that might, you know… actually work.
Photo credit: expertinfantry's Flickr stream.