Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Burgh Diaspora

boeing-everett

The Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. (Photo: Jeremy Elson/Wikimedia Commons)

Seattle Is Dying

• April 11, 2014 • 1:29 PM

The Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. (Photo: Jeremy Elson/Wikimedia Commons)

With a diversified employment base, the Emerald City will survive as Boeing starts looking for new talent outside of Washington State. But what does the search for cheap STEM talent say about the Innovation Economy?

Boeing long has been the economic anchor for the Puget Sound area in Washington State. Seattle’s employment base is much more diverse these days. But Boeing’s demand for STEM talent remains a centerpiece of workforce development:

Wildfire season starts on April 15, the same day Bob Drewel begins a one-year term as interim chancellor of the coming Washington State University North Puget Sound at Everett. …

… In July, WSU assumes responsibility of the University Center, an amalgamation of six public universities and one private college on the ECC campus. The Legislature’s intent many years ago was to create a mix of choices and opportunities for regional students closer to home.

The transition to WSU North Puget Sound was put in play by the Legislature in 2011. Last year, the school’s governing board approved spending $10 million for new office and classroom space on the Everett campus for WSU programs.

Seeing this come together is a bit of a marvel, even if WSU’s engineering expertise is a natural fit with the ongoing training and talent needs of Boeing.

Emphasis added. Keep in mind this link between WSU North Puget Sound’s engineering expertise and “ongoing training and talent needs of Boeing.” I’m about to drop a bomb, a doozy. “Boeing Moving 1,000 More Engineering Jobs to California“:

Ray Goforth, executive director of the Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), reacted angrily on hearing the news of the work transfer as it was announced internally.

“SPEEA specifically warned Governor Inslee that his legislation was crafted with loopholes that would allow Boeing to take the $9 billion and outsource jobs anyway,” Goforth said in an e-mail. “Why doesn’t the governor call a special session to close the loopholes and save these jobs?”

The “$9 billion” refers to the tax break given Boeing by the Washington State government, ostensibly to make sure the company stays put. Furthermore, institutions of higher education bend over backwards (see $10 million investment in the Everett campus for WSU) to accommodate the needs of industry. Apparently, all was for naught. An explanation:

“We’re trying to leverage the expertise and experience of all the engineering workforce across the Boeing enterprise … to make sure we can ramp up and keep up with all the demands we’re facing in the next 20 years,” including the increased demand for new airplanes, said Doug Alder, spokesman for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. …

… “Southern California is attractive (to Boeing) because we can use the existing engineering workforce from the heritage McDonnell Douglas programs and tap into the cool, new talent coming from engineering schools in Southern California and really use those two together to come up with what we think will be a spectacular workforce,” Alder said.

Ouch. “Sorry, Washington State. Your talent isn’t cool enough for Boeing.”

Forget “cool” and focus on “new” talent. Echoing a theme for this series, Innovation Economy wages are too damn high:

The engineer who asked not to be identified said many in his group are convinced Boeing is trying to get rid of older, more expensive veterans in favor of hiring younger people in California.

He also noted that the company’s engineering facilities in Seal Beach and Long Beach are not unionized.

During contract talks with SPEEA in the fall of 2012, Delaney warned publicly that an expensive contract would lead to job transfers out of state.

Emphasis added. That should ring a bell for regular readers. In this post, I referenced an article in The Wall Street Journal:

“We joked about the older suburbanites being excluded from the new [business] model,” said Jon Scherf, age 42, a marketing professional who left Hillshire shortly before its December 2012 move to downtown Chicago. “They would’ve been happy to have me but they’re also happy to bring in new blood.”

The joke isn’t funny, at least to Boeing engineers based in Washington. “Cool talent” that prefers a downtown working address is code for “cheaper” STEM labor. The Innovation Economy, not Seattle, is what’s really dying.

Jim Russell
Jim Russell is a geographer studying the relationship between migration and economic development.

More From Jim Russell

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

December 18 • 4:00 PM

How I Navigated Life as a Newly Sober Mom

Saying “no” to my kids was harder than saying “no” to alcohol. But for their sake and mine, I had to learn to put myself first sometimes.


December 18 • 2:00 PM

Women in Apocalyptic Fiction Shaving Their Armpits

Because our interest in realism apparently only goes so far.


December 18 • 12:00 PM

The Paradox of Choice, 10 Years Later

Paul Hiebert talks to psychologist Barry Schwartz about how modern trends—social media, FOMO, customer review sites—fit in with arguments he made a decade ago in his highly influential book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less.


December 18 • 10:00 AM

What It’s Like to Spend a Few Hours in the Church of Scientology

Wrestling with thetans, attempting to unlock a memory bank, and a personality test seemingly aimed at people with depression. This is Scientology’s “dissemination drill” for potential new members.


December 18 • 8:00 AM

Gendering #BlackLivesMatter: A Feminist Perspective

Black men are stereotyped as violent, while black women are rendered invisible. Here’s why the gendering of black lives matters.


December 18 • 7:06 AM

Apparently You Can Bring Your Religion to Work

New research says offices that encourage talk of religion actually make for happier workplaces.


December 18 • 6:00 AM

The Very Weak and Complicated Links Between Mental Illness and Gun Violence

Vanderbilt University’s Jonathan Metzl and Kenneth MacLeish address our anxieties and correct our assumptions.


December 18 • 4:00 AM

Should Movies Be Rated RD for Reckless Driving?

A new study finds a link between watching films featuring reckless driving and engaging in similar behavior years later.


December 17 • 4:00 PM

How to Run a Drug Dealing Network in Prison

People tend not to hear about the prison drug dealing operations that succeed. Substance.com asks a veteran of the game to explain his system.


December 17 • 2:00 PM

Gender Segregation of Toys Is on the Rise

Charting the use of “toys for boys” and “toys for girls” in American English.


December 17 • 12:41 PM

Why the College Football Playoff Is Terrible But Better Than Before

The sample size is still embarrassingly small, but at least there’s less room for the availability cascade.


December 17 • 11:06 AM

Canadian Kids Have a Serious Smoking Problem

Bootleg cigarette sales could be leading Canadian teens to more serious drugs, a recent study finds.


December 17 • 10:37 AM

A Public Lynching in Sproul Plaza

When photographs of lynching victims showed up on a hallowed site of democracy in action, a provocation was issued—but to whom, by whom, and why?


December 17 • 8:00 AM

What Was the Job?

This was the year the job broke, the year we accepted a re-interpretation of its fundamental bargain and bought in to the push to get us to all work for ourselves rather than each other.


December 17 • 6:00 AM

White Kids Will Be Kids

Even the “good” kids—bound for college, upwardly mobile—sometimes break the law. The difference? They don’t have much to fear. A professor of race and social movements reflects on her teenage years and faces some uncomfortable realities.



December 16 • 4:00 PM

How Fear of Occupy Wall Street Undermined the Red Cross’ Sandy Relief Effort

Red Cross responders say there was a ban on working with the widely praised Occupy Sandy relief group because it was seen as politically unpalatable.


December 16 • 3:30 PM

Murder! Mayhem! And That’s Just the Cartoons!

New research suggests deaths are common features of animated features aimed at children.


December 16 • 1:43 PM

In Tragedy, Empathy Still Dependent on Proximity

In spite of an increasingly connected world, in the face of adversity, a personal touch is most effective.


December 16 • 12:00 PM

The ‘New York Times’ Is Hooked on Drug du Jour Journalism

For the paper of record, addiction is always about this drug or that drug rather than the real causes.


December 16 • 10:00 AM

What Is the Point of Academic Books?

Ultimately, they’re meant to disseminate knowledge. But their narrow appeal makes them expensive to produce and harder to sell.


December 16 • 8:00 AM

Unjust and Unwell: The Racial Issues That Could Be Affecting Your Health Care

Physicians and medical students have the same problems with implicit bias as the rest of us.


December 16 • 6:00 AM

If You Get Confused Just Listen to the Music Play

Healing the brain with the Grateful Dead.


December 16 • 4:00 AM

Another Casualty of the Great Recession: Trust

Research from Britain finds people who were laid off from their jobs expressed lower levels of generalized trust.


December 15 • 4:00 PM

When Charter Schools Are Non-Profit in Name Only

Some charters pass along nearly all their money to for-profit companies hired to manage the schools. It’s an arrangement that’s raising eyebrows.


Follow us


Apparently You Can Bring Your Religion to Work

New research says offices that encourage talk of religion actually make for happier workplaces.

Canadian Kids Have a Serious Smoking Problem

Bootleg cigarette sales could be leading Canadian teens to more serious drugs, a recent study finds.

The Hidden Psychology of the Home Ref

That old myth of home field bias isn’t a myth at all; it’s a statistical fact.

A Word of Caution to the Holiday Deal-Makers

Repeat customers—with higher return rates and real bargain-hunting prowess—can have negative effects on a company’s net earnings.

Crowdfunding Works for Science

Scientists just need to put forth some effort.

The Big One

One in two United States senators and two in five House members who left office between 1998 and 2004 became lobbyists. November/December 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.