"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.