Aerospace Shows Strength in Harsh Financial Atmosphere

WASHINGTON -- The aerospace industry is showing resiliency in trying economic times, ending 2008 with modest growth and continued strength in important areas like foreign trade balance and employment, AIA announced Wednesday.

While the industry has not been immune to effects from the ongoing global financial crisis, it is showing relative strength, AIA president and CEO Marion Blakey said during the annual AIA Year-End Review and Forecast.

"We are in an extremely challenging economic atmosphere, but our industry is proving to be remarkably durable," Blakey said. "We anticipate this to continue, and we expect our industry will continue to be an asset to the U.S. economy as we climb out of our current financial hardships."

Aerospace sales are on pace to reach $204 billion for 2008. This is an increase of 2.1 percent - a lower rate than in recent years, but a record sales figure for the industry for the fifth consecutive year.

The industry will also continue to post very strong export numbers, reaching $99.2 billion for the year. That fuels a critically important foreign trade surplus of about $61 billion, almost exactly the figure the industry logged in 2007. It is the largest trade surplus of any U.S. manufacturing sector.

Employment also remained solid, with an average workforce that will reach 655,500 for the year. The total was 657,700 in figures released in September. The average is about 10,000 more than the average for 2007.

AIA is forecasting modest sales growth for 2009. Sales should reach $214 billion, a figure that is about 2.2 percent more than the total the industry would have achieved this year had a work stoppage not impacted the 2008 bottom line. Blakey acknowledged we are in extremely volatile economic times that could affect the forecast in the coming year.

AIA has launched an outreach campaign highlighting the industry's strength and potential to help the U.S. economy recover from the recession. The campaign, titled "Aerospace and Defense: The Strength to Lift America," details that the industry supports 2 million middle-class jobs spread out over 30,000 companies in all 50 states. Aerospace helps ensure our national security, and bolsters advanced technology innovation.

The new administration and Congress should rely upon our industry in this time of need and continue to support the programs that can get America's economy moving again, Blakey said.

Blakey released the statistics during the 44th annual installment of the Year-End Review and Forecast. About 350 members of the media, industry and government attended the event, which showcases statistical analysis by AIA's Aerospace Research Center.

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