Boeing is hiring again after cutting over 21,000 jobs in the last five years. Employment at the aircraft manufacturer at the end of November 2017 this year was calculated to be 65,830 in Washington state. In September 2012 it stood at 87,023. Layoffs came when Boeing sought to reduce costs while competing with the EU-based Airbus for new jet orders from the world’s airlines.
Boeing has seen a record number of orders and deliveries of its planes. In Renton, Washington, Boeing is busy manufacturing the new 737 jet, while at Everett it is building the 787. However, the assembly line for the aging 747 has slowed, as has the 777. Even so, Boeing is readying the 777X replacement, which is about to accelerate.
Jobs cuts have come mostly from a voluntary layoff program, while other job losses have come about as parts of the company have located to other states.
Boeing foresees an uptick in new hires over the next few months. While the hundreds of expected hires are coming soon, Boeing is more concerned about replacing employees who are now eligible for retirement, especially on the factory floor. Half of its workforce will be eligible to retire over the next five years.
Boeing is essential to the wider economy of Washington, which includes a network of more than 1,300 companies ranging in size. They provide Boeing, Airbus, and other aerospace companies, the armed forces with parts and services. Even though Boeing slowed down, those companies continued to hire.
The boost for Boeing's business may be attributed to the $31.9 billion contract granted by the Obama administration in its waning days. The Trump administration sealed a $1.9 billion deal earlier this year. President Donald Trump's promised defense buildup may also swell Boeing's coffers. Bell-Boeing, a joint venture between Boeing and Bell Helicopter, an unit of Textron Inc., recently won a contract for providing various services for the V-22 Osprey tiltroter military aircraft platform. The contract is worth $18 million and was awarded by the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland. However, the work will be fulfilled in Fort Worth, TX, and Philadelphia, PA, not Washington state. Because the Senate approved a fiscal 2018 defense budget of $700 billion in September, it is likely that Boeing will see more contracts from the Pentagon for their high-end defense equipments.
Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.