Aerospace & Defense

Aerospace & Defense

The Puget Sound region has a proud history and a strong future as a leader in the aerospace industry

In 2015, the 1,400 aerospace-related companies around Washington State directly supported approximately 93,800 jobs and generated $69.9 billion in direct revenue. Each of those aerospace jobs, in turn, supports nearly 1.7 additional jobs elsewhere in the economy, making a total impact of nearly 252,800 jobs. In King County, there were 507 aerospace-related companies supporting approximately 44,640 jobs.

The largest employer is Boeing Commercial Airplanes, which is headquartered in Renton, about 15 minutes south of downtown Seattle. Employees at the 278-acre Renton site produce Boeing’s advanced 737 airplane models. In Everett, just north of Seattle, the company is assembling the next generation 787 Dreamliner and the 777X.

Efforts to support this important sector include Aerospace Futures Alliance of Washington, a statewide association launched in January 2006 that is raising the visibility of the aerospace industry and supporting policies conducive to future growth.

For more information about our region's prominent Aerospace industry, download our Aerospace brochure.

Cluster Snapshot


Data Sources: Washington State Employment Security Department, 2015; Washington State Department of Revenue, 2015; Washington Military Alliance; Washington Aerospace Economic Impacts 2016 Update; US International Trade Administration, 2014.


Melinda GoforthVice President of Business Development
Email Melinda

Quick Stats

  • Washington was the largest exporter of aerospace products valued at $51.6B in 2015, and is consistently increasing over the years.
  • King County firms represent the entire production value chain from machine shops to tier I suppliers and one of the two largest commercial aerospace manufacturers in the world
  • Washington State is home to more than 6,000 aerospace engineers
  • Home to final assembly operations for the Boeing 737, 747, 767, 777 and new 787 and 737-MAX
  • More than 1/6 of all U.S. aerospace workers are employed in Washington state, the largest concentration in the country
  • Washington has a long history as a leader in aerospace and advanced manufacturing. Our decades of experience give us many advantages over newer entrants into the industries.

Center for aerospace expertise

From the development and assembly of the 737-MAX to the cutting-edge 787 Dreamliner to national defense, our workforce brings unmatched experience and expertise. King County’s long, steady history with aircraft and aerospace has made this a hub for a skilled aerospace workforce. At last count, fully half of the state’s 84,000 experienced aerospace engineers, machinists and workers live in King County. A history and commitment in aerospace.

Nearly half of the 650 commercial and defense aerospace companies in Washington are also located right here in King County. In addition to being the home of Boeing’s famous aircraft and aerospace divisions, King County has invested deeply in the future of aerospace in the region, including creating the King County Aerospace Alliance, a group dedicated to further strengthening the aerospace industry.

The bottom line for companies is that when it comes to the highest quality output, the lowest risk of errors and competitive costs, this is simply the best region in the world for aerospace. 

Washington companies can depend on Washington’s solid fiscal foundation, skilled and talented workforce, ability to innovate, favorable business climate for aerospace and advanced manufacturing and a quality of life that surpasses all competitor states. “In these tough economic times, it’s reassuring to see that Washington’s long-term bond ratings continue to be among the highest in the nation. The ratings are a reflection of our state’s strong financial management practices, well-educated work force, and stable economic growth expected in the future…” Governor Chris Gregoire April 3, 2009

Fiscally sound

Washington State has earned high marks from all three major bond-rating agencies, citing continued confidence in the state’s financial management and economic outlook and its prudent response to the national recession. Programs such as Washington’s unemployment insurance (UI) fund are in solid condition and are among the healthiest in the nation, unlike many other states whose funds have become insolvent and have had to borrow extensively to maintain the program. “… Washington is the big story. One of two biggest gainers in the rankings, Washington was the only state to finish in the top five in three main categories: labor, regulatory environment and growth.” September 2009

Strong business climate

Washington has an attractive business environment that does not tax personal or corporate income. Our tax credits, deferrals, abatements, and rate reductions focus specifically on such areas as high-tech R&D, aerospace manufacturing, and medical device manufacturing.

Skilled workforce

“The new training money will be a resounding affirmation of the state’s commitment to provide the state’s workers with the skills they need to compete.” Michael Zubovic, Vice President of Finance and Administration of Aviation Technical Services In 2011, Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. ranked Washington second in the U.S. for the highest concentration of STEM-related jobs. Washington places a high priority on our education and training system and has a pool of talented workers especially in aerospace and advanced manufacturing. Washington hosts an established, experienced, and knowledgeable manufacturing nucleus of 84,000 aerospace workers including the highest concentration of aerospace engineers in the world. And each of those jobs in the industry generates three more jobs elsewhere in the local economy. We also have over 650 suppliers who have had a history of building the best airplanes for decades.


The Kauffman Foundation’s 2010 State New Economy Index ranked Washington State second in innovation capacity. Washington is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world and ranks high in entrepreneurial start-ups. We are a leader in patents and home to a venture capital system that disburses far more funding for new companies than almost all other states. “The spectacular beauty and recreational opportunities of the Central Cascades are unique. National Geographic is pleased to have the opportunity to spotlight this region and, in doing so, support and sustain it as one of the treasured natural places on the globe.” James Dion, associate director of the Center for Sustainable Destinations

Quality of life

Washington’s high quality of life attracts top talent from around the world and the overall well-being of its residents result in more productive workers. Washington’s distinctive Northwest lifestyle mixes a progressive, creative culture with a casual nature that makes the state a very attractive place to live, work, and play. Learn more about the quality of life in the Northwest.


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