Boeing employment stabilizing in Western Washington

After declining by nearly 4,000 jobs last year, Boeing’s Washington employment level appears to have stabilized at more than 81,000 workers.

New figures from the aerospace company show that despite periodic layoffs in some programs in the Evergreen State, new hires and transfers have actually engendered a small rise in employment for Boeing since the beginning of the year. (The company issued a layoff notice for 95 workers this week.)

As of June 26, Boeing reported it employed 81,724 workers in Washington. That compares with 81,452 on the Boeing payroll here at the end of January.

The company’s Washington job losses last year were driven in part by the end of programs to complete unfinished work on Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Major sections of those planes had been delivered to Boeing’s wide-body aircraft plant in Everett from suppliers who failed to complete work on those subassemblies before shipping them.

But while those retrofitting and finishing programs are phasing out, Boeing has increased its production rate for three of its planes, the 737, 787 and 777, all of which are built in the Puget Sound area.

June’s Boeing employment level exceeds all of the monthly Puget Sound employment levels from the terrorist incidents on Sept. 11, 2001 through November of 2011.

Boeing radically cut its workforce after the terrorist strikes from 80,000 in September 2001 to a low of 52,763 in June of 2004. From that low point, caused by airlines’ postponing or canceling orders, the workforce gradually grew again until last year.

While Boeing’s current employment numbers are settling at a fairly high level, they’re nowhere near Boeing’s peak Puget Sound employment. That came in June of 1998 when the company employed 104,000 workers in Washington.

After Washington, the state with the most Boeing workers is California with 18,394 workers. South Carolina, the only other state where Boeing makes commercial aircraft, the company employs 8,359 workers.