VERIFY: Has Boeing met obligations to create jobs?

Washington state extended $8.7 billion in tax breaks to Boeing as part of the broader commercial aerospace industry. In return, the company said it would put the assembly line for its newest plane in Western Washington.

In December 2013, the legislature granted $8.7 billion in tax breaks to help guarantee that Boeing would build the new 777X airliner in Washington, instead of another state. 

There was a second piece: The machinists union would have to agree to extend its contract by eight years, which led to a highly contentious debate and failed on the first of what turned out to be two votes. 

For their part, the governor, legislature, and others said the 777X was critical to maintaining jobs. But no requirement was placed in the law. 

Since then, Boeing's job numbers have declined and another recent legislative session underwent efforts to tie the continuation of the concessions to Boeing to specific job targets.

We set out to verify if Boeing has met its obligations.

Our sources:

Legislation passed and signed by Governor Jay Inslee 

The 2016 Washington State Aerospace Economic Impacts Study

Boeing's own job numbers

The law states: "Incentivising a long-term commitment to maintain and grow jobs in the aerospace industry in Washington state by extending...aerospace tax preferences."    

Those tax credits are "contingent upon the siting of a significant commercial airplane manufacturing program in the state of Washington." 

Boeing is not mentioned specifically, because the state's constitution precludes any direct aid to a specific company. But it does help the industry more broadly, including parts suppliers and tool makers.

In late 2013 when the tax incentives were proposed and passed, Boeing's job numbers were already declining. Since 2013, Boeing jobs have dropped another 11,000 from nearly 82,000 in late 2013 to roughly 70,000 in 2017. 

But the most recent numbers on the broader industry tell a different story based on the most recent data available.

From 2013-15, jobs aerospace industry wide went from 131,500 in 2013 to 136,100 jobs in 2015, an increase of 4,600 jobs, according to the Washington State Aerospace Economic Impacts 2016 update. However, John Thornquist, director of the state's aerospace office, suspects from anecdotal information those broader job numbers have likely declined somewhat since then.

Companies have until May 31, to file new numbers in order to get the tax breaks, and the data will be compiled in the months ahead. 

Boeing has made a billion dollar investment in Everett. It's actually building 777X parts in its Composite Wing Center and another building, which is already constructing 777 fuselages using automated equipment along with its own workforce to maintain and operate that equipment. Final assembly of the 777X will happen in the large assembly building where the current 777 model is built

Our Findings:

Boeing did build the factories that it promised

Law does not require Boeing or any aerospace company to hit a certain target 

However, the intent of the law seems clear – to maintain and grow jobs   

Boeing does not break out jobs by airplane program or job site, but Everett is the largest Boeing factory in the state. Other answers are subjective. Without the 777X, what would that have meant for Everett and eventually the presence of Boeing statewide over time?

Help VERIFY:

Help us Verify the news. Is there more about this story you would like to see? Is there another story you'd like us to Verify? We want your input. Please email us at verify@king5.com.

© 2017 KING-TV


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