WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems has announced it is laying off 2,800 employees at its Wichita, Kansas, facility due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.
The layoffs threaten to hurt a state economy that’s been solid for months, with low unemployment, and better-than-anticipated state tax collections. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and the Republican-controlled Legislature have been able to boost spending on public schools and services, and the news comes three days before lawmakers open their annual session.
Kelly’s administration already had said it was considering using the state’s fund for unemployment benefits to pay part of the salaries of Spirit workers, so that they could remain in their jobs.
Employees will be paid for the 60-day notice period. Affected employees will leave the company beginning Jan. 22.
Spirit is a major supplier on the 737 Max program, making about 70% of the airplane’s structure including the entire fuselage and other parts.
The Max represents more than half of Spirit’s annual income.
“The difficult decision announced today is a necessary step given the uncertainty related to both the timing for resuming 737 production and the overall production levels that can be expected following the production suspension,” Spirit AeroSystems CEO Tom Gentile said in a prepared statement.
Spirit plans to implement smaller workforce reductions this month for its plants in Tulsa and McAlester, Oklahoma.
The company said it has taken steps to lessen the impact by transferring some 737 Max employees to other programs and facilitate job fairs to help laid-off employees.
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