From late 2016 to early 2019, hiring at Boeing ($NYSE:BA) was on a seemingly unstoppable upswing. Open positions over that time period grew more than 400%, from around 500 openings to more than 2,000, and its stock price rose nearly 175%.
But since February 20, 2019, the number of open postions posted to Boeing's public-facing recruiting website have plummeted in degrees we rarely see.
As of this week, job listings dropped to as low as 366 openings. That's a drop of nearly 85% in openings since a February 20, 2019 high of 2,160 openings.
The context here is well known at this point: Boeing is struggling to get its 737 MAX planes back in the air after software issues were linked to two fatal accidents. Just yesterday, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberg testified before a congressional subcommittee, telling them that the 737 MAX "was fatally flawed and should never have been approved."
As of publishing, no one is certain when the plane will be back in service.
At the Paris Air Show, Boeing's problems are on full display, where American Airlines placed an prder for 50 A321XLR jets from Airbus in a move that some consider a blow to Boeing, as that plane is considered a direct competitor to Boeing's 757-200. Airbus also landed a $6 billion deal with Cebu Air. All wasn't bad for Boeing at the show, though: Korean Air committed to buying 20 787 Dreamliners in a deal said to be worth more than $6 bllion.
Meanwhile, problems with the 737 MAX are extending to Boeing's partners. Pilots at Southwest Airlines are seeking compensation for lost income as a result of the plane's grounding. It is estimated that Southwest pilots lose $8.5 million per month for not flying the MAX.
A drop in hiring of this magnitude isn't a reason for investors to panic, however. A company shoring up labor overhead as it goes through PR and sales troubles like this is being seen by some investors as a chance to get in on an undervalued stock. While the short-term losses may sting, experts in the industry remain bullish on a full Boeing recovery.
And they're likely right: employee count data tracked via LinkedIn ($NASDAQ:MSFT) shows continued growth in workforce size at Boeing, a sign that layoffs are not on the company's radar and that employees are in place as the company recovers.