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RENTON, WA- Boeing Commercial Airplane Group late last week said it will cut the workforce at its Renton-based Commercial Airplanes division more than expected. The Chicago-based aerospace manufacturer said 4,000 to 5,000 more jobs would be lost than previously expected by the end of the year. Several hundred received notices on Friday.

As a result, by the end of the year Boeing will have cut it workforce by 40,000 since the start of 2002, and most of the jobs being eliminated are in the Puget Sound, where the company makes all but one of its commercial jets. The last time Boeing hit the brakes this hard was in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when a billboard leaving Seattle was changed to read “Will the last person leaving Seattle — turn out the lights.”

Boeing says the problems began to show up after the 2001 terrorist attacks and then continued to worsen with the economy, the war and SARS. The situation has slowed demand for new jets and maintenance services, according to Boeing.

Prior to Sept. 11, 2001, Boeing employed 93,000 people. By the end of the year, it now expects to be employing between 55,000 and 56,000. About 21,000 of the 35,000 jobs lost so far have come from the Puget Sound region, where Boeing has been consolidating operations and marketing excess space for lease.

In the last two months alone, Boeing has leased out some 600,000 sf space previously used for airplane manufacturing. Longtime Boeing supplier Giddens Industries leased 105,000 sf of Boeing’s otherwise vacant 458,000-sf BOMARC 45-70 building in Everett, and hearth manufacturer Travis Industries has signed a 12-year lease for Centre 41, Boeing’s 476,000-sf industrial building at Harbour Pointe in Mukilteo.

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