Boeing’s Washington payroll, propelled by production pace increases and new aircraft development projects, grew by nearly 9,000 workers since the end of 2010 hitting at level that hasn’t been equaled in more than a dozen years.
The company reports it employed 82,325 workers in Washington at the end of last month. That compares with 73,617 Washington employees the company reported just 14 months ago.
Company-wide, the lion’s share of Boeing’s hiring in that period was in Washington, where its commercial airplane production and design work is centered. Of the 11,155 Boeing added to its payrolls nationwide since the end of 2010, 8,708 were in the Evergreen State. Boeing at the end of February employed 171,921 workers.
The latest Washington employment figures are the highest since October of 1999 when the company reported it had 82,400 employees here.
The new figures show the company has more than regained the nearly 30,000 local Boeing jobs since Boeing made drastic payroll cuts in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 airliner terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Boeing reported it employed 80,000 workers in Washington on Sept. 6, 2001, less than a week before the attacks.
By June of 2004, the company had reduced its Washington employment rolls to 52,763 as airlines canceled or postponed airliner orders as the economy tanked and the airline industry retrenched.
Boeing has been careful to grow local payrolls slowly since. The company hoped to avoid the overhiring of the late 1990s where it accelerated its production and hiring too quickly. The company’s Washington payroll peaked at 104,000 in June of 1998.
The company’s productivity per workers has increased dramatically since then. Boeing, for instance, delivered 564 airliners in 1998 when local employment was more than 100,000. In 2012, the company is predicting it will build 585 to 600 airliners with nearly 20,000 fewer employees.
Part of the increased employment is driven by the greater demand for new aircraft. Boeing is dialing up the production rate for all of its airliner production lines. Boeing says it hired 5,000 additional production line workers last year to handle existing increases.
The company likely will be hiring even more as planned production is accelerated further.
The popular 737 single-aisle jet production line in Renton recently began producing 35 aircraft a month, up from 31.5 a month. Boeing plans to produce 42 737s monthly by 2014.
The company increased the production pace for its 767 wide-bodied jet to two a month from one and a half last summer. The company is designing a new aerial tanker for the Air Foce that will be based on the 767. The Defense Department has ordered 179 of those 767-based planes.
Boeing’s Everett plant is currently producing two and a half 787 Dreamliners monthly with plans to increase that rate to 10 monthly by late next year. Some of those planes, three monthly, will be built in South Carolina.
The popular 777 will go from seven per month now to eight and a third per month by early next year.
The 747 jumbo jet production pace will increase to two monthly from one and a half now by mid-summer this year at Everett.
In addition to the production employment increases, Boeing is hiring additional engineering talent.
The company has three on-going airliner design projects working, the updated 737 Max, the next generation of the 777 and further new models of the 787.