According to a report issued by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) in Arlington, Va., a prolific flurry of orders in the final quarter sent aerospace industry statistics into record territory in 2005, shattering old marks for orders and backlog while also recording the largest number of shipments in history. The aerospace industry added 7,300 jobs in the final quarter of 2005, and while that?s not a record, the employment increase continues an upswing in new jobs after hitting a 50-year low in 2004.

Statistics compiled by AIA?s Aerospace Research Center show orders totaling $241 billion in 2005. The previous high value for orders was $166 billion in 2000. The backlog swelled to $281 billion, besting the previous mark of $221 billion in 1997, and shipments increased to $175 billion, up from $154 billion in 2004.

Dramatic jumps in civil aircraft, which includes commercial airliners, fueled the statistics, increasing $73 billion to $156 billion, which represents a gain of 88.5% over the previous year. Much of that was in the final quarter, when $67 billion in orders came in. Defense orders also increased $7 billion to $73 billion?the second highest level in 14 years.

The increase in aerospace jobs, which includes instrument manufacturing, took the total workforce to 626,3000 in December 2005, representing a gain of 21,400 for the year. Aerospace employment has been declining steadily from 1.3 million in 1989 to the low point of 579,700 in February 2004. AIA Research Director David Napier said one in three manufacturing jobs added nationally since that point have been in the aerospace industry.

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