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Cities With the Most Military Families

Photo Credit: Abbey Benson / Shutterstock

By David Heacock

Millions of Americans are employed as active-duty military or serve in the Reserves and National Guard. While a much smaller share of Americans hold positions in the U.S. Armed Forces than in years past, a large number of Americans still have direct ties to the military. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 3.2% of the U.S. population lives in a military household with at least one active-duty military, Reserves, or National Guard member.

The draft for military service ended in 1973. Since then, the military has been an all-volunteer force. During the height of the Vietnam war in 1968, there were nearly 3.7 million active-duty military members, comprising 1.8% of the total U.S. population, but the share of active-duty military members has been declining since then. In 2020, 1.5 million Americans, or less than 0.5% of the population, served as active-duty.

U.S. military demographics have changed dramatically over time as well. Today, a much larger share of women serve—female enlistees account for 16% of enlisted forces, up from 2% in 1973, while the share of female officers has increased from 8% in 1973 to 19%. At the same time, the Armed Forces have become more racially and ethnically diverse, and the share of military members with children has fluctuated over time. In 2010 and 2011, 44% of active-duty military personnel were parents; as of 2020, this figure had dropped to less than 36%.

As U.S. military demographics change over time, so do the share of Americans who are part of a military family. While just over 3% of Americans are in military households, this figure varies greatly by geography, based on the presence of U.S. military bases. At the state level, Hawaii, which has 13 military bases, is home to the largest share of military household members, at 11.2% of the population. Military families are also common in Alaska, with nine bases, where 10.5% of the population are in military households. At the other end of the spectrum, only about 2% of the population in both Michigan and New York live in a military household.

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To determine the U.S. metropolitan areas with the most military families, researchers at Filterbuy analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked metros according to the percentage of the population in a military household—defined as one in which at least one household member currently serves in the military, Reserves, or National Guard. Researchers also calculated the percentage of the population who are active-duty military personnel, the percentage of the population who are Veterans, the percentage of the population who are in the Reserves or National Guard, and the military branch with the largest active presence.

Here are the metros with the most military families.

Large Metros With The Most Military Families

  1. Photo Credit: lev radin / Shutterstock

    Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 3.4%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.1%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 5.8%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.2%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Army
  2. Photo Credit: Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock

    Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 3.7%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.1%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 4.9%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.3%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Navy
  3. Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

    Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 3.7%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.6%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 6.0%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 0.7%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Army
  4. Photo Credit: Chuck Wagner / Shutterstock

    New Orleans-Metairie, LA

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 3.9%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.3%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 4.6%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.2%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Army
  5. Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

    Kansas City, MO-KS

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 3.9%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.4%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 5.9%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.2%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Army
  6. Photo Credit: Shots by Natalie / Shutterstock

    Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 4.0%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.4%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 6.8%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.1%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Air Force
  7. Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

    Birmingham-Hoover, AL

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 4.0%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.1%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 5.7%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.5%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Air Force
  8. Photo Credit: Olivier Le Queinec / Shutterstock

    Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 4.3%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.5%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 6.1%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.1%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Navy
  9. Photo Credit: LHBLLC / Shutterstock

    Tucson, AZ

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 4.4%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.7%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 7.5%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.1%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Air Force
  10. Photo Credit: CHARLES MORRA / Shutterstock

    Jacksonville, FL

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 4.4%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.9%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 8.9%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.0%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Navy
  11. Photo Credit: Felix Lipov / Shutterstock

    Richmond, VA

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 4.5%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.5%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 6.0%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.3%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Army
  12. Photo Credit: Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock

    Oklahoma City, OK

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 4.5%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.4%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 6.5%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.3%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Air Force
  13. Photo Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

    San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 5.4%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 0.6%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 7.4%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.2%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Air Force
  14. Photo Credit: kan_khampanya / Shutterstock

    San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 5.6%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 1.4%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 6.0%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 0.8%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Navy
  15. Photo Credit: LorraineHudgins / Shutterstock

    Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

    • Percentage of population in a military household: 11.6%
    • Percentage of population who are active duty: 3.4%
    • Percentage of population who are Veterans: 11.4%
    • Percentage of population who are Reserve/National Guard: 1.0%
    • Military branch with largest active presence: Navy

Detailed Findings & Methodology

To determine the U.S. metropolitan areas with the most military families, researchers at Filterbuy analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample.The researchers ranked metros according to the percentage of the population in a military household—defined as one in which at least one household member currently serves in the military, Reserves, or National Guard. In the event of a tie, the metro with the greater total number of military households was ranked higher. Researchers also calculated the percentage of the population who are active-duty military personnel, the percentage of the population who are Veterans, the percentage of the population who are in the Reserves or National Guard, and the military branch with the largest active presence.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size: