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Boeing Plans Major Shift Of Defense Work Out Of Washington, Affecting 2,000 People

Dan Lighton
AP Photo
Two Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor's fly over the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race before the green flag at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011, in Talladega, Alabama.

Boeing plans to move a large portion of its defense-related business out of Washington state, affecting about 2,000 people.

The company is shifting defense services and support work to Oklahoma City and St. Louis, as well as some additional work to Florida and Maryland. The programs affected include support work for Airborne Warning and Control Systems, Airborne Early Warning and Control as well as the F-22 Raptor.

Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton says this is part of a pattern of Boeing shifting work to lower-cost states. Boeing’s been moving thousands of engineering and information technology jobs out of Washington.

"I wouldn’t call this in and of itself a big blow, but it’s an incremental blow," Hamilton said. "It’s like water torture — a drip here, a drip there. It’s the constant dripping of job loss that we’re looking at here."

A company spokeswoman says it’s incorrect to say that 2,000 people are losing their jobs. Some will be offered transfers, and others may find work within Boeing Commercial Airplanes in the Puget Sound region.

"To the greatest degree feasible, the company will leverage Boeing Commercial Airplanes' presence in the Puget Sound region to mitigate the impact of this decision on individual employees," Boeing said in a statement. 

But the company acknowledges there will be some job loss and is pledging to provide job search resources, career counseling and retirement seminars.

The jobs represent more than a third of Boeing’s defense workforce here. The company will keep building its KC-46A tanker, based on the 767, and its P-8 anti-submarine aircraft, based on the 737, in the Puget Sound area. 

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.