A top Raytheon executive announced Wednesday the company would add another 1,000 employees in Tucson even as he declined to say how much of the company’s Arizona business involves selling missiles to Saudi Arabia.
Stephen duMont said the new jobs will be in areas like engineering, paying in the “six-figure range.” They will be in addition to the nearly 13,000 people working for the company in Tucson.
He also said an economic impact study done for the company by Arizona State University’s Seidman Institute shows it has a $2.6 billion annual impact, up by $500 million in the past three years. That figure includes not just the company’s own wages and salaries but also what is provided to its more than 500 suppliers statewide.
“The global demand for our product continues to increase,” duMont said. “And that’s driving hiring at an unprecedented rate of new employees into Raytheon.”
Those customers include Saudi Arabia which is involved in a hot war with Yemen.
“We’re a global company as you know,” duMont said when asked about foreign sales.
“We sell products and technologies around the world,” he continued. “But we do it under the direct guidance, following the rules and regulations of the U.S. government.”
And duMont said questions about who is buying their products essentially are irrelevant to Raytheon’s business.
“We are a technology company, a high-tech company with a higher purpose,” he said. “So our goal is to deliver technologies to the U.S. government and friendly foreign governments so they can provide sovereignty and protect their people.”
There is a direct connection with Tucson.
Published reports show that a Raytheon-produced laser-guided bomb fired from a Saudi military jet in 2017 destroyed an apartment building in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, killing 16 civilians according to Yemeni officials.
Fragments of the bomb included some numbers which Amnesty International said shows the device was made by Raytheon in Tucson.
But duMont declined to talk about that issue as well as the question of why jobs may be being created in Arizona to kill people who are involved in a rebellion in Yemen.
“I really don’t have a comment on operational actions, either from the U.S. government or friendly foreign military,” he said. “We’re excited to be a high-tech company here in Arizona providing systems that make the world a safer place.”
Questions have been raised about Saudi actions – and U.S. support – not just over its war with Yemen but also the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The CIA has concluded that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman actually ordered the killing, a contention the prince’s brother has denied.
The Raytheon executive said he won’t answer questions about how much of the company’s sales are to Saudi Arabia.
“But I will tell you … about a third of our business is international,” he said. “The rest is in the U.S.”
The growth of Raytheon, the largest private employer in southern Arizona, is part of what has become a pronounced increase in manufacturing employment in the state.
Figures produced by the state’s Office of Economic Opportunity show the state added 9,200 manufacturing jobs in the past 12 months, a 5.4 percent growth rate which is close to double the national figure.
Gov. Doug Ducey, at Wednesday’s event, said that means that manufacturing employment now exceeds construction employment in Arizona.
That, however, may be a temporary situation.
The construction industry was particularly hard hit during the recession, shedding more than half of the 244,300 jobs it had at its peak. But it is now recovering with high demand, particularly for housing, adding another 15,200 jobs in the past year to bring employment up to 175,000, up 9.5 percent from the same period a year ago.
Manufacturing also was hit during the recession, though nowhere near as hard.
Prior to the recession employment was at 212,400, dropping to 148,000 in 2010. It is now back to 180,200.
The latest Raytheon announcement comes a year after the company dedicated six new buildings at its Tucson facilities, hiring more than 2,000 workers.