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Aerospace in Washington

Economic Impacts and Workforce Analysis

Aerospace Works for Washington is a statewide coalition of elected, business and community leaders working to ensure Washington state remains a leader in aerospace.  To develop effective strategies, and communicate with stakeholders, AWW commissioned CAI to develop a model of workforce supply and demand, and economic impact of the sector. 

If you have questions about this report, or would like to learn more about CAI’s talent pipeline model, and approach to economic impact and workforce analysis, please get in touch at 206-523-6683 or by email to info@communityattributes.com 

EX E C U T I V E  SU M M A R Y

The aerospace industry in Washington, anchored by The Boeing Company, continues to be a major pillar of the statewide economy, and a leading source of employment and wealth creation across the state. Key findings from this study are as follows:

  • In 2018, the aerospace industry generated an estimated $71 billion in gross revenues in Washington state. Revenues appear to have increased since 2017, thereby sustaining a trend of much higher revenues relative to prior years. From 2002 to 2011, statewide revenues averaged $40 billion. From 2012 through 2018, revenues averaged $68 billion (all inflation adjusted, 2018 dollars).
  • In 2018, Washington state’s aerospace workforce is estimated to have reached 83,400 workers, about the same or down slightly from the average annual employment in 2017, industry wide. These workers were employed across 199 establishments. Jobs at Boeing increased in 2018, adding 4,000 jobs, which may portend industry wide gains continuing into 2019.Since 2002, when the number of aerospace workers were at 75,700, there have been numerous ups and downs in the aerospace industry globally, which were reflected over the years in the ups and downs of the aerospace workforce in Washington.
  • Total estimated aerospace labor compensation in 2018 totaled $12.4billion, very slightly down from 2017. In 2018, the average annual wage paid per worker was $116,770 (compared to roughly, and an estimated $63,000 across all industries and all workers in Washington in 2018).
  • The total economic impact of the aerospace industry in Washington state in 2018 included 223,700 jobs, $20.5 billion in labor income, and $94.4 billion in business revenues. Between 2012 and 2018, the total economic impact of aerospace has increased from $80.6 billion, in 2018 dollars, to $94.4 billion. Total labor compensation impacts decreased from $21.1 billion (2018 $) to $20.5 billion. Total jobs have decreased, reflecting productivity gains in the industry in Washington.

Aerospace Workforce Supply and Demand
Across the Washington state aerospace industry, more than 62,300 employees work in 56 core aerospace industry occupations. These core occupations represent only a portion of total employment within the aerospace industry. Overall employment within the aerospace industry includes employment in other occupations that are commonly found in other industries, as well. Core aerospace industry occupation employment is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 0.8% between 2021 and 2026. In total, annual openings in core aerospace industry occupations are projected to total more than 6,000 per year between 2021 and 2026. Annual openings include new jobs created due to growth as well as job openings created by existing employees exiting employment to retire, move or change occupations.
Annual openings are those openings that are projected to be filled annually and do not account for job openings that go unfilled. In 2018, across Washington, there were an average of more than 150,500 job postings per month, according to Help Wanted Online data from The Conference Board. Key aerospace occupation groups had thousands of job postings monthly. Engineering occupations averaged nearly 3,900 job postings per month. Production occupations, including supervisors, assemblers and fabricators, and metal and plastic workers had an average of nearly 2,000 job postings per month.

The Aerospace Workforce Supply and Demand Dashboard presented below shows occupations in the aerospace industry grouped by minimum education level required for entry and ranked by average annual openings within the industry from 2021 to 2026. In some cases, the actual education required by Washington state employers may be different from the minimum education level categories defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall findings include the following:

  • Between 2021 and 2026 Washington is forecasted to have a net shortage of 2,651 among core aerospace occupations annually.
  •  Among 56 core aerospace occupations, 39 are projected to experience an undersupply of qualified workers from Washington annually.
  •  Core aerospace occupations span a wide diversity of skills ranging from aerospace engineers to machinists to software developers and computer numerically controlled machine tool programmers.
  •  Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging and systems assemblers in the aerospace industry are forecasted to have an annual shortage of 800 workers, the largest projected talent gap in the industry. Qualified candidates from Washington are projected to fill just 22% of annual openings.
  •  Several occupations are forecasted to experience large surpluses in local workforce supply: industrial engineering technicians; architectural and engineering managers; industrial production managers; and electro-mechanical technicians are each projected to experience surpluses greater than 100 qualified candidates annually.

Local and Regional Impacts
The large numbers of statewide impacts sometimes overshadow an understanding of how local communities benefit from aerospace and its employees that live and shop in their communities. Aerospace workers live relatively near their workplaces. Worker residences are concentrated in Western Washington counties, up and down nearly the entirety of the I-5 corridor, including many workers living on the eastern side of I-5 counties.

Everett, Marysville, Arlington and surrounding rural areas rank highest in worker residents, working out of facilities north of Seattle. Renton area and Kent industrial valley workers are more dispersed throughout urban areas in Western Washington.
Spending patterns of Aerospace workers in their places of residence provide an understanding of local impacts from Aerospace

Everett-Lynnwood
In the Everett and Lynnwood area, Aerospace workers and spending support a tremendous amount of business activity. These workers support the equivalent of three car dealerships, or a total of 1,800 cars each year purchased by aerospace workers. Typical dining out patterns, assuming most of their spending is local to them, support $76 million in sales at restaurants and drinking places, which equates to nearly 1,300 restaurant workers and 89 individual restaurants. Additional retail spending by aerospace workers supports nearly 900,000 square feet of retail space, nearly $300 million in retail sales.

North Everett to Arlington
Northward from Everett into Arlington, aerospace workers support the equivalent of one to two car dealerships, or a total of 600 cars each year purchased by aerospace workers. Dining patterns support an estimated $24 million in sales at restaurants and drinking places, which equates to more than 400 restaurant workers and roughly 28 individual restaurants. Additional retail spending by Aerospace workers supports nearly 270,000 square feet of retail space and nearly $87 million in retail sales. The equivalent of 27 doctors and dentist offices are supported as well, summing to 600 jobs.

Auburn-Renton
From Auburn to Renton, aerospace workers support the equivalent of two car dealerships, or a total of 800 cars per year purchased by aerospace workers. Typical dining out patterns, assuming half of their spending is local to them, supports $37 million in sales at restaurants and drinking places, which equates to more than 600 restaurant workers and roughly 43 individual restaurants. Additional retail spending by Aerospace workers supports more than 400,000 square feet of retail space, $130 million in retail sales. The equivalent of 51 doctors and dentist offices are supported by aerospace workers, totaling nearly 900 jobs.

Pierce and South King County.
In Pierce County communities, and the southern portion of King County, aerospace workers support the equivalent of one to three car dealerships, or a total of 1,200 cars per year purchased by Aerospace workers. Typical dining out patterns, assuming half of their spending is local to them, supports $54 million in sales at restaurants and drinking places, which equates to more than 900 restaurant workers and roughly 63 individual restaurants. Retail spending by aerospace workers supports nearly 600,000 square feet of retail space, nearly $200 million in retail sales. In terms of healthcare, aerospace workers support the equivalent of 55 doctors and dentist offices, or a total of 1,300 jobs.