"Boeing NewGen Tanker Win Would Bring 580 Jobs, $30 Million to New York."

So boasted Boeing (NYSE: BA) in a press release yesterday, part of the firm's ongoing effort to boost political support for its bid to build the Air Force's next flying fill-up station.

In recent weeks, we've seen a plethora of similar announcements from defense contractors spooked by the spectre of Pentagon budget cuts. In duels reminiscent of election-year mudslinging campaigns, United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) blasted the funding of a new engine for Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT) F-35 fighter jet. General Electric (NYSE: GE), maker of said engine, responded in kind. But nowhere has the battle been hotter than in Boeing's dogfight with EADS over the fate of KC-X.

What's in it for me?
According to Boeing's latest PR puff piece, if New York's legislators help pressure the Pentagon to award it the KC-X contract, New York will make out like a bandit. Boeing said the Empire State could score "580 total jobs" and a $30 million "annual economic impact" as the aerospace giant parcels out subcontracts to companies with a New York presence, including BE Aerospace (Nasdaq: BEAV), Ducommon (NYSE: DCO), and Parker Hannifin (NYSE: PH).

Sweet deal, right? But just for fun, let's take Boeing's press release and shuffle the numbers around a bit, to see what Boeing's really saying here.

Out of the "nearly 732 suppliers/vendors" with which Boeing works in New York, only 13 are named as producing "critical" KC-X components. While KC-X could bring 580 jobs to New York, Boeing employs just 85 people there today. And if KC-X could bring $30 million in new revenue, Boeing already "delivers" an $871 million "annual economic impact" to the state. In other words:

  • Fewer than 2% of New York-based businesses would benefit from KC-X.
  • Out of 157,100 jobs spread across the globe, Boeing has hired just 85 New Yorkers -- 0.05% of its workforce.
  • KC-X would increase New York's impact from Boeing by less than 3.5%.

Much ado about nothing
I doubt we'll see Boeing's PR department advertising the above bullet points any time soon. But they do help put things in perspective for New Yorkers. Simply put, KC-X just isn't that big a deal to the Empire State.

Boeing, quit wasting taxpayer dollars building "economic impact" mountains out of PR molehills. Focus on building a good plane and controlling costs. Then, when you beat EADS and win the KC-X, we'll be cheering along with you.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Check out his latest stock recommendations on Motley Fool CAPS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.