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Boeing to Reduce Research and Tech Jobs in Wash. State by as Many as 1,200

Reed Saxon
Associated Press
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Boeing says its research and technology workforce in Washington state will probably shrink by as many as 1,200 jobs as the company shifts work to other states including Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina.

The news comes on a day when many people in Washington are waiting to hear whether Boeing will accept a preliminary contract proposal from the machinists’ union. The union is seeking to reach an agreement with the company that would guarantee production of the next 777 jet in the Puget Sound region, securing thousands of jobs.

Boeing, the state’s biggest private-sector employer, is critical to Washington’s economy. The company employs about 82,000 people in the state.

Boeing says it’s establishing research centers in Huntsville, Alabama; Southern California; St. Louis; North Charleston, South Carolina; and Seattle. The company says the realignment is designed to better meet the needs of its commercial airplanes and defense businesses as well as government customers. The move continues a trend that began earlier this year, as Boeing announced that it would shift information technology and engineering work to other states.

Defense Sites

Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton says Boeing appears to be shifting work to locations that usually concentrate on military projects. He says the company may want to redeploy staff as defense contracts shrink.

"You don't want to lose that talent and that institutional knowledge of your engineers and research technicians, so that could be part of it," Hamilton said. "It also could be that Boeing is just spreading the work around."

The company says it expects to add about 300 to 400 research and technology jobs each in Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina. Boeing says Washington state research and technology jobs will decrease by 800 to 1,200 and by 200 to 300 jobs in California.

Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that he’s disappointed by Boeing’s announcement.

“This demonstrates why we are working so hard to ensure the 777X and its carbon fiber wing are designed and built in our state,” Inslee said. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.