Good Jobs Flying Away: The US Jet Engine industry

Part of the The Jerome Levy Economics Institute Series book series (JLEI)


In a manner not unlike the other industries highlighted in this book, aerospace, the ‘crown jewel’ of post-war US manufacturing, is experiencing a structural decline, seeing ‘good jobs’ slipping away at an alarming rate. During the 1990s the US aerospace industry has undergone a far-reaching process of consolidation, shedding thousands of highly-skilled, well-paid blue-collar precision production jobs in addition to white-collar design and engineering jobs that only a few years ago seemed secure.1 In five short years, between 1989 and 1994, aerospace equipment manufacturers cut close to half a million jobs, representing a decline of 37 percent from their 1989 employment level of 1 331 000 (Barber and Scott, 1995, p. 12). Much of the job loss in the industry at that time could be attributed to the slowing of military orders as the cold war drew to a close. A steep drop in commercial demand, due to worldwide recession, rising fuel prices, and the onset of the Gulf War followed, further contributing to the downsizing of the aerospace workforce. But it is important to note that declining employment in aerospace manufacture during the 1990s occurred alongside a narrowing of the trade surplus, an increase in the foreign content of commercial aircraft and jet engines, and greater opportunities for companies abroad to participate in aerospace equipment production, product development and even basic research activities. Such developments are all indications of a structural shift in the industry, one whereby production has become increasingly globalized over the last two decades.


Corporate Governance Aerospace Industry Aircraft Engine International Partner Engine Industry 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2002

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