By Dominic Gates / The Seattle Times
In early January, it will become clear exactly how many jobs Boeing has cut in Washington state this year. The number is certainly more than 6,000.
After that, Boeing has decided to disclose its jobs data just once a year, instead of month by month, as has been its past practice.
As Boeing employment continues its downward slide, management is radically reducing the admirable transparency that in the past distinguished the company from its peers.
Boeing also tucked away the archive of employment data that it has previously compiled and published online for the past 20 years.
For those two decades, Boeing each month posted its employment figures broken down by business unit and also by state. The archive of this data on the Boeing website stretched all the way back to the 1997 merger with McDonnell Douglas.
It’s been an invaluable database for journalists, investment analysts and labor researchers tracking historical trends or the shifting fortunes of Boeing in Washington state compared to, say, South Carolina.
No more. On Thursday, Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers notified reporters that Boeing would now update the employment figures just once a year.
As the email arrived, the archive of past employment data had already been scrubbed from the Boeing website.
“This brings Boeing in line with industry peers and streamlines the reporting,” Bickers wrote.
In January, Boeing will post the employment data for 2016. Then we’ll have to wait a year for the next upload of figures.
It certainly should cut down on the number of news stories about Boeing shrinking in the state.
The monthly employment data has also been important to Washington state lawmakers as they assess the vital importance of Boeing to the state and debate questions such as whether the state tax incentives should be tied to jobs.
State Senator Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) said the Boeing jobs data is “absolutely essential.”
“Boeing has always been transparent. Regardless of the business dynamic, they at least gave the public the courtesy of the real-deal numbers,” he said in an interview. “It’s more than unsettling that they’ve pulled back from that.”
Carlyle went on to say that large public companies with such a big imprint on the state’s economy have a duty of full disclosure.
Boeing’s retreat from its past transparency, Carlyle said, is “outside the bounds of a decades-long relationship” with the citizens of the state.
Though the employment data archive is gone from Boeing’s website, an Internet history website, the Wayback Machine, has captured a slightly incomplete version from 1997 through past October.