Jobs + Economy

The Economic Impact of Unmanned Systems

The unmanned systems industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. In fact, the United States is the biggest unmanned systems producer in the world and will account for nearly 70 percent of production over the next decade. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates there are already some 100 U.S. companies, academic institutions and government organizations developing more than 300 unmanned systems designs.

It is a particularly exciting time for the unmanned aircraft industry. The integration of UAS into the National Airspace System will open up a new market for this technology, creating new jobs, boost local economies and tax revenues, reinvigorate manufacturing bases and advance a number of states as leaders in technology and innovation.

FAA integration is projected to create more than 70,000 jobs by 2017, according to an AUVSI study. The total economic impact of the industry is expected to be $82 billion in the 11 years following integration. The total job creation by 2025 is estimated to be more than 100,000.


The integration of UAS into the national airspace will not only lead to an increase in jobs directly related to their production and operation, but will also have a significant impact on secondary job growth by manufacturers of components.

Read AUVSI’s 2013 Economic Impact Study click here.

“The economic impact the UAS industry will have for Kansas is immeasurable, and this news underscores the fact that Kansas is making incredible progress in UAS’ emerging aviation enterprise,” - Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas)

“It’s important for Oklahoma to be on the cutting edge of that research and technology and development and developing the type of skilled, educated work force that will continue to help the industry grow … It places Oklahoma in the top leadership position for unmanned aerials systems research … It will reap great benefits once again for our economy.” - Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin

“If you’re building unmanned vehicles, that’s the vehicle of the future. No question about it, it could bring a lot of jobs to Ohio.”- Ohio Governor John Kasich

To see a map of the expected economic impact and job creation potential for each state click here.

The growth of this technology is expected to come from its uses in precision agriculture and public safety, but where these jobs are eventually located will depend upon a variety of factors – state laws, tax incentives, regulations, the establishment of test sites and the adoption of UAS technology by end users – which will ultimately determine where jobs flow. Some states have already fostered an environment conducive to UAS manufacturing, testing and development – and have generated a significant number of jobs in the process. 

The United States is not the only market for this innovative technology. The Teal Group’s 2012 market study estimates that global unmanned spending will almost double over the next decade from $6.6 billion annually to $11.4 billion, totaling just more than $89 billion in the next 10 years.