The U.S. aerospace and defense industry showed solid growth in 2018, contributing $929 billion in economic output, up 7 percent from $865 billion in 2017, supporting gains in job growth as well, according to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).

Jobs in the industry grew to 2.5 million in 2018, up 4 percent from 2.4 million in 2017, AIA says in an initial look at the state of the industry released on Thursday. A final report will be released this fall.

Lockheed Martin-build F-35. Photo: Lockheed Martin

The preliminary “facts & figures” that AIA issued also show the U.S. aerospace and defense industry enjoyed a nearly $90 billion trade surplus in 2018, with exports up nearly 6 percent to $151 billion. The trade balance in aerospace and defense products was $86 billion in 2017, according to the final report for that year, which was issued last July.

The figures released on Thursday also show that aerospace and defense exports accounted for 9 percent of all U.S. exports last year.

On the labor and income front, AIA says the industry accounts for 20 percent of U.S. manufacturing jobs and almost $237 billion in wages, nearly 8 percent higher than in 2017. The average wage in the industry in 2018 was $92,742, up just over 1 percent from 2017, and AIA says the average salary was 87 percent higher than the average of U.S. workers.

The new statistics also highlight contributions of the supply chain, with a $208 billion-plus contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product out of a $374 billion-plus total contribution from the entire industry. Of the 2.5 million jobs generated by the sector overall, nearly 1.7 million were in the supply chain, AIA says.