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September 18, 2023

Payroll, spending at Kittery shipyard reached highest total ever last year

File photo Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, situated on islands in the Piscataqua River, employed over 7,300 civilians last year.

The Kittery shipyard that outfits Navy submarines, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, generated $1.46 billion in economic activity throughout the region last year, according to a new study.

That's the highest annual total ever for the yard and a 10.2% increase over the 2021 total of roughly $1.32 billion.

Economic activity at PNSY totaled $1.16 billion in 2019, but dipped to $947 million in 2020 largely due to the onset of COVID-19.

The economic estimates are compiled each year by a local booster group, the Seacoast Shipyard Association, and use Defense Department data on civilian payroll, military payroll, and the costs of purchases and contracted services.

The shipyard, a sprawling, 300-acre complex on Seavey Island in the Piscataqua River, employed 7,356 civilians in 2022. Their payroll totaled $663.5 million, down slightly from $670.7 million in 2021.

More than half of last year's civilian workers, 4,101, lived in Maine and accounted for a payroll of $372 million. Another 2,900 workers were from New Hampshire and 170 came from Massachusetts. Nearly 200 workers came from outside the three states.

The military payroll at PNSY totaled over $50 million in 2022, up from $$48.7 million in 2021.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has increased civilian employment in recent years, adding about 1,000 workers since 2016. But like most employers in the region, the yard has also struggled to fill jobs. The civilian workforce peaked in 2020 at 7,639.

In 2022, the Maine community with the greatest number of civilian employees was the Sanford-Springvale area, with 513 employees receiving a total payroll of $40.8 million.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is one of four such Navy-operated facilities in the country and the second-oldest, founded in 1800.

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