U.S. Space Workforce
U.S. Space Industry Employment
The ongoing impacts of the economic slowdown and the reductions in NASA’s contractor workforce are not the only issues affecting U.S. space industry employees. The American aerospace workforce is aging. As shown in Exhibit 4k, the ages of both the NASA workforce and the broader aerospace workforce are clustered in the 40- to 60-year age range.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which regularly surveys local, state, and national workforce trends across the entire range of U.S. economic activity, offers the broadest source of U.S. space industry workforce data. Data from the six space-related industry sectors shown in Exhibit 4c forms the basis for a detailed assessment of U.S. space employment and salary trends.
Though the U.S. workforce has remained robust over the past decade, the future of the space industry in the United States deserves careful analysis and consideration. The workforce is likely to be affected by the retirement of the Space Shuttle and recent changes in NASA’s human spaceflight program.
From 2004 to 2008, nearly four U.S. space jobs were added for every one that was lost. During this period, employment in every sector of the U.S. space industry recorded by the BLS grew, except for satellite telecommunications. The bursting of the telecom bubble led to a decline in U.S. satellite telecommunications jobs from ## in 2001 to ## by 2004, a contraction of nearly 24%.
The most authoritative source of U.S. space industry workforce data is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. space industry core employment is measured by assessing the six BLS North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes detailed in Exhibit 4b. While NAICS codes reflect an official U.S. government approach to understanding and measuring employees and salaries, in some cases NAICS codes combine workers from different industry sectors under the same labor category, complicating an exact labor count.
According to data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than a quarter million Americans are employed in the space industry. The most recent (2006) estimate by the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation calculates the combined direct and indirect value of the U.S. space industry, including the secondary and tertiary economic activities it enables, at approximately $## billion.
Employment in every sector of the U.S. space industry analyzed in The Space Report 2009 grew between 2003 and 2007 with the exception of satellite telecommunications. The end of the telecom bubble in 2000 and 2001 prompted restructuring within the satellite telecommunications industry, including consolidation among operators.
The estimate of U.S. space industry core employment calculated in The Space Report 2009 is derived from the total of the most recent workforce numbers from the ## North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes in Exhibit 4b, below. As Exhibit 4c shows, ## Americans worked in the space industry in 2007.