Outlook 2023: Labor shortages continue to plague aerospace

Boeing 777 final assembly line in Everett (WA). Credit: Leeham News.

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By Bryan Corliss

Jan. 4, 2023, © Leeham News:  Some aerospace suppliers say the industry is dealing with a shortage of production workers, as well as engineers. Airbus, Boeing and other manufacturers, including engine companies, complain they can’t get to desired production rates because of, in part, a labor shortage.

It’s part of a broader phenomenon across all manufacturing, with one industry group saying there’s an immediate need for 2.1 million factory workers right now.

In some circumstances, this has meant raising wages. In Wichita, the “Aerospace Capital of the World,” there’s a bidding war going on for skilled aerospace mechanics.   In Puget Sound, Boeing had to go back to the bargaining table with the Machinists Union in 2019, to negotiate $4-an-hour pay increases for entry-level workers. In Charleston (SC), Boeing reportedly struggles with a higher-than-normal attrition rate as workers leave for higher-paying jobs.

It seems inevitable that the lack of experienced workers will make it harder for companies to deliver parts and finished goods on time, and the absolute need to raise pay will cut into margins. Both these factors could very well be a drag on profits, even as airlines clamor for new aircraft that will increase manufacturers’ revenues.


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