Report: Washington is best state for building Boeing’s new mid-market aircraft
Objective competitiveness study examines how our state stacks up against the other 49 states and D.C.
When it comes to attracting Boeing’s next big airliner project — and the jobs that come with it — Washington is pulling no punches: It asked a leading aerospace consultant to conduct the most comprehensive state-by-state aerospace competitiveness study ever done.
The results of that research, unveiled Wednesday morning in Seattle, show Washington far ahead of other states as the most competitive place for large aerospace manufacturing operations. According to the report, Washington would offer the lowest risk and highest return for Boeing should the company choose to build its proposed new mid-market airplane, the NMA, here.
Washington scored high in nearly all the study’s evaluation categories and many of its 41 individual metrics. Gov. Jay Inslee’s Choose Washington NMA Council commissioned the Teal Group, one of the world’s leading aerospace industry analysis firms, to conduct the objective review with research group Olympic Analytics. They reviewed aerospace manufacturing in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Washington’s aerospace industry, according to the study, produces more revenue, exports and profits than any other state in the nation. Washington has the largest number of aerospace workers, the highest density of aerospace engineers, second-highest density of aerospace production workers and fourth-lowest unit labor costs.
Communities across Washington contribute to this aerospace supercluster, providing a high density of key aerospace components.
“Washington has an aerospace supercluster like no other in the country,” Inslee said. “The Teal report shows that by any measure, Washington is leading the way by offering the most competitive environment and workforce for companies seeking to build world-class planes.”
Inslee said much of Washington’s success in aerospace is because of the stellar 136,000 aerospace workers — many from second- and third-generation aviation families — who call our state home.
“From the 737 to the 787 Dreamliner, we are proud that Boeing’s roots are in Washington,” Inslee said. “We believe we have all the ingredients necessary to bring the NMA to market quickly and profitably, thanks to our expert workforce and our century-long legacy of building aircraft of exceptional quality.”
Washington has advantages beyond those pertaining to just aerospace, including low energy costs, high port volume, low insurance losses, higher number of patents per capita, considerable private research and development investments, and lower taxes.
Other key findings from the study include:
- Every dollar paid to workers in Washington’s aerospace industry generates $11 in revenue, so Washington has the fourth-lowest unit labor costs in the nation.
- Washington has the lowest industrial energy prices in the nation.
- Washington ranks second in labor and education, based on the availability of aerospace workers, the population’s educational attainment and state spending on K-12 education.
- In 2017, Washington exported more aerospace products and parts than California, Texas, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Arizona and Alabama combined.
- Washington is a leading state in research and innovation, with the third-highest patents per capita and fifth-highest rate of private research and development investments in the nation.
Researchers used publicly available federal data to conduct the analysis.
The report measured factors relevant to aerospace production such as cost structure, the availability of skilled labor, global trade connections and taxes, said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group. Aboulafia added that for aerospace companies, siting decisions are more important than ever.
“The aerospace assembly business is hypercompetitive and involves tremendous risk,” Aboulafia said. “Manufacturers want to make decisions — especially the critical decision about where to assemble — where there’s the lowest possible risk and the highest potential for success.”
The study also highlighted areas for improvement, including infrastructure, which the NMA Council will look at closely to make the state even more competitive.
Researchers also said they expect Washington’s education ranking to rise following historic state investments in K-12 education made in Washington last year, as well as advancements in the state’s Career Connect Washington initiative.
Leaders from across the state in business, labor, education, economic development and government compose the Choose Washington NMA Council. The council, co-chaired by Washington State University engineering professor Noel Schulz and former Washington State Labor Council president Rick Bender, met recently in Spokane and Pierce County to discuss how aerospace companies in those communities contribute to the supercluster.