A Boeing press release out late yesterday spelled more bad news for Washington State’s job market. The release said Boeing plans to consolidate the majority of its defense and support-related activities to St. Louis and Oklahoma City where similar activities are already located.
Since Boeing’s corporate headquarters moved to Chicago in 2001, jobs have slowly bled out of the Pacific Northwest. Several years ago, there was extreme bitterness in the entire Seattle-Everett area when Boeing announced plans to break ground on a 265 acre site in North Charleston, South Carolina. Construction began in 2009 on the new plant. The first Dreamliner rolled out the door in 2012. Washingtonians still have heartburn over that.
Yesterday’s announcement indicated some of the displaced jobs will also go to Jacksonville, Florida and Patuxent River, Maryland. In total, some 2,000 employees could be affected. The entire transition could take up to three years.
Things could change before the final stages of the transition are complete, but Oklahoma City could see as many as 900 new jobs. St. Louis has a potential to have 500 new positions moved to the city. Programs that will be relocated include services and support work for Airborne Warning and Control Systems, Airborne Early Warning & Control and the F-22 Raptor.
Chris Chadwick, Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security president and CEO had this to say:
“The decision to consolidate these activities was difficult because it affects our employees, their families and their communities. However, this is necessary if we are going to differentiate ourselves from competitors and stay ahead of a rapidly changing global defense environment.”
Boeing Defense remains strong in the greater-Seattle area due to production of the KC-46A tanker and the P-8 Poseidon, built expressly for the U.S. Navy. However yesterday’s release indicated that about 12% of the P-8 production will be done in Jacksonville.
Language included in the release indicates corporate must feel like many employees will choose to stay in the Northwest. Boeing said they will provide transition assistance for employees, to include job search resources, retirement seminars, and career counseling services.
Boeing currently employs over 168,000 people. At one time, most of those employees were Seattle-based. Boeing lists total assets at nearly $93 billion.
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