The United States has been the world leader in aerospace and aviation since the early 20th century as both the largest producer and marketplace. It also has the world's largest military budget. Six of the top nine global aerospace companies are based in the US.

The US aerospace industry grew by around 8.15% in 2006 to exceed US$183.5B.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the aerospace industry employed 444,000 wage and salary jobs in 2004. The industry is comprised of an estimated 2,800 companies. Sixty-three percent of the jobs in aerospace manufacturing were in large establishments that each employed 1,000 or more workers..  The largest numbers of aerospace jobs are in Washington and California, followed by Kansas, Texas, Connecticut, and Arizona.

Industry giants include Boeing, headquartered in Chicago, IL, which is the largest aircraft manufacturer in the US, and the leading global aerospace company by revenues. Other large aerospace companies include United Technologies Corp. and Lockheed Martin.

The federal government traditionally is the aerospace industry’s biggest customer. The vast majority of government contracts to purchase aerospace equipment are awarded by the Department of Defense. NASA also is a major purchaser of products and services, mainly for space vehicles and launch services.

Employment in the aerospace industry has declined in recent years as a result of a drastic reduction in commercial transport aircraft orders, but a modest increase in  orders are expected over the period up to 2014. The outlook for the military aircraft and missiles portion of the industry is better. Concern for the nation’s security has increased the need for military aircraft and aerospace equipment.

Commercial Aviation

Operating revenues for U.S. passenger and cargo airlines topped $150.8B, carrying some 738m passengers and  26.8m revenue ton-miles of freight in 2005. The airline industry employed more than 605,000 employees at the end of 2005; 114,000 of these were considered part-time workers. A recent state-by-state review of the broad economic impact of commercial aviation by the Air Transport Association of America attributes over $1,200B in economic output and nearly 11.4m U.S. jobs to commercial aviation. The leading aviation state by both employment and output is California, while in Hawaii commercial aviation has the greatest per capita impact.

The U.S. passenger airline industry has lost more than $40B since 2001, including about $10B in 2005 alone. An industry forecast for 2006 estimated an industry-wide loss of $500m in 2006, with net profits of $2.5B forecast for 2007.

Sources of Further Information

Aerospace Industries Association, 1000 Wilson Blvd., Suite
1700, Arlington, VA 22209. Internet:

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 1801
Alexander Bell Dr., Suite 500, Reston, VA 20191. Internet:

Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Ave. SW,
Room 810, Washington, DC 20591. Internet:

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