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Report also provides a glimpse at a post-pandemic recovery

Arlington, VA – The COVID-19 pandemic took an immense toll on America and the world last year, causing significant and tragic losses to human lives. It also put an enormous strain on governments, industries, and economies across the globe. The U.S. aerospace & defense (A&D) industries experienced significant declines in jobs and revenue, which is displayed in the “2021 Facts & Figures: U.S. Aerospace & Defense” report developed by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) in collaboration with IHS Markit. The report provides insights into the pandemic’s effects on A&D in 2020 and explores steps to recovery.

During the pandemic, disruptions in production lines, delayed transportation of materials and goods, and financing challenges hit small- and medium-sized businesses along the A&D supply chain particularly hard, accounting for about 64 percent of the 87,000 industry jobs lost. Because end use manufacturers rely on the vital components and products those companies produce, those losses in employees, revenue, and products had and continue to have serious ripple effects throughout the rest of the A&D industry.

“In 2020, the pandemic inflicted immense pain upon our nation and the rest of the world, including the loss of millions of lives, thousands of businesses, and hundreds of thousands of jobs,” said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning. “This year’s report details the effects that the COVID-19 had on the A&D industry. It also provides a glimpse of the positive trends and opportunities that will form the basis of our industry’s growth in a post-pandemic world. Our industry is committed to a full recovery that will support the nation’s security, economy, creation of jobs, and advancements in cutting edge technologies.”

Despite the tremendous losses in jobs and revenue, the industry was still responsible for employing 2.09 million workers or 1.4 percent of America’s workforce, and, at $104,577, average wages and benefits remained 41 percent above the national average. A&D also contributed about $382 billion to the total U.S. gross domestic product, $90.6 billion in exports, which was a positive trade balance of $40.6 billion, and paid out $218.6 billion in compensation last year.

The 2021 report doesn’t only look at bottom lines and workforce statistics. It also heralds the industry’s participation in COVID-19 relief efforts, both nationally and internationally. Through significant monetary contributions, donations of essential medical supplies, and volunteer efforts, the A&D workforce displayed leadership in times of hardship, showcasing their resilience and compassion for others and the communities they live and work in across the U.S.

As the industry moves towards recovery, emerging technologies and advancements in research and development programs prove that the future is bright. With advanced air mobility aircraft, unmanned aerial systems, a rebound in commercial air travel, and the rise of commercial space activity, the industry has several sectors to invest in as it works to bounce back from the pandemic’s effects.

The support of policy makers is imperative to the industry’s success in its recovery efforts, however. Government support through programs like the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection program, and the Department of Defense’s advanced progress payments aided businesses of all sizes in the A&D supply chain, keeping the industry alive despite significant setbacks. The continued partnership between industry and government is critical to ensuring a full return to the robust industry employment and trade metrics seen during the 2010s, including growing and increasing diversity the A&D workforce.

The continued success of the A&D industry despite the unique hardships posed by the pandemic is a testament to the strength of the entire A&D community and is proof of the industry’s continued commitment to supporting the economy and the safety and security of America.

Download the report.


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