As of this week, the Boeing ($BA) 737 MAX airplane is grounded in 50 countries, including the United States. Boeing says that a software fix for the plane is coming, but the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the fix should have come in January, two months before last week's crash that killed 157 people.
The delay in the fix, according to the report, was due a breakdown in Federal Aviation Administration discussions as a result of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. During shutdown that lasted from December to January, Boeing reportedly stopped working on "flight control enhancement for the 737 MAX" that was meant to assuage safety concerns about the aircraft's autopilot system that is now the focus of the Ethiopian crash investigation.
But something else happened on December 22, the exact day the government shutdown began: Boeing slowed hiring by 16%. And at Boeing's Renton factory, where the 737 MAX is made, openings spiked as the shutdown ended. It appears that Boeing wasn't just not working on the software in question, it also wasn't investing in new talent for the 737 MAX project.
On December 22, 2018, Boeing was hiring 1,577 people. By January 6, openings were down to 1,353.
Hiring eventually picked up, but the timing of the closed job openings is curious.
The 737 MAX is produced at Boeing's Renton, Washington factory. For that area alone, job listings at Boeing indicate a similar drop in openings beginning December 22. Openings didn't swell again until late January.
That's exactly when the government shutdown ended.