The ability of manufacturing to create wealth and high-paying jobs continues to be hampered by the global Great Recession. The latest evidence of how badly the economic crisis is affecting living standards comes from the very industry that supplies the titans of industry who brought on the crisis in the first place. Aviation might sell to multi-millionaires, but it largely employs skilled, middle class American workers, an increasingly threatened but highly productive group.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said that in the first three months of 2009 deliveries of general aviation airplanes totaled 462 units, a 41% drop from the same period last year, with industry billings falling 18.2% to $4.34 billion.
This is roughly the same decline that automakers are facing, but in general aviation, a category that excludes the largest airliners and military planes, the production numbers are much smaller, and the sales prices much higher. So just 462 units, or the output of one shift of a GM final assembly plant, translates into a billion dollar hit, perhaps not much by Washington’s standards but real money for people struggling in the real economy.
Industry estimates show that 15,000 good jobs evaporated in the U.S. during the past several months as such historic companies as Cessna, Mooney, Piper and Gulfstream grappled with the ongoing crisis. Cessna Aircraft Company in Kansas is the world’s largest manufacturer of general aviation airplanes. In 2008, Cessna delivered 1,301 aircraft, including a market-leading 467 Citation business jets, while reporting revenues of about $5.6 billion. Cessna has a backlog of $13 billion as of March 31, 2009, but it too has been laying off workers since last November, cutting about 6,000 of 15,000 employees, as sales dwindle and it reorganizes. (more…)