Economist Puts Aviation Layoffs In Perspective

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A Wichita State University economist is advising us not to inject to much fear into the bad news we're hearing concerning aircraft layoffs.

"We've never seen an economic environment that's spinning as fast as it is right now," says WSU Professor Stan Longhoffer.

But, at the same time, Longhoffer says not to panic.

"The magnitude of the layoff announcements so far are relatively small," he says.

Both Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft told employees this week to expect another round of layoffs. Both company's CEO's painted a grim picture of the economic climate for the aircraft industry right now because of order deferrals and cancellations.

In the first round of layoffs announced in November, 1800 jobs were slashed at Boeing, Cessna and HBC. What the second round will bring remains to be seen.

But let's compare this to the last down cycle:

"Contrast that to 2001 with Boeing's initial round of layoff announcements that they made. That was around 5,000 initially and ended up being around 7,000," Longhoffer says. "That's over 11-percent of the aviation manufacturing workforce at the time."

Aircraft employment has actually been growing up until this past November, according to the bureau of labor statistics. Longhoffer cautions, however, about making comparisons between this down cycle and what occurred seven years ago.

"Each downturn is response to its unique factors," he says.

Aviation took the brunt of the 2001 recession because of the 9/11 attacks. Sub-prime housing and finance are at the center of this recession.

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