As Boeing worked through the 737 MAX crisis in 2019, it added 2,000 jobs in Washington state.

And though the grounding of the jet resulted in Boeing losing millions of dollars last year, a federal filing Friday shows the losses were cushioned by the windfall of a $1.6 billion tax benefit.

According to employment data posted Friday, at the end of 2019 Boeing employed 71,829 people in Washington state, up by 2,000 employees or almost 3% from a year earlier.

Overall company employment rose by 8,000 employees, more than 5%, to 161,133.

“Despite a year of unprecedented challenges and a highly competitive labor market, Boeing continues to attract and retain talent,” said company spokesman Paul Bergman.

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During the year, Boeing’s defense and space division shed almost 3,000 jobs, while the commercial-airplanes unit added just over 800 jobs and its new services division added almost 2,000 jobs.

The biggest shift was in Boeing’s corporate operations, which added more than 8,300 jobs. Some of that is due to employees, including some in supplier management, being reassigned to the corporate division from other units.

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Tax windfall

In 2019, hit financially by the MAX grounding, Boeing reported a pretax loss of about $2.3 billion.

Boeing’s annual 10-K financial filing Friday shows that as a result of that loss, along with almost $1 billion in tax credits — for research and development, for delivering jets to foreign markets and for settlement of state tax audits spanning 15 prior tax years — Boeing’s federal tax for the year came out as a tax benefit of $1.6 billion.

Hence for accounting purposes, Boeing’s net after-tax loss reported Wednesday was reduced to $636 million. In cash terms, a lot of the $1.6 billion benefit is deferred and will reduce Boeing’s federal tax payments in future years.

Friday’s filing also revealed that Boeing’s insurance companies paid it $500 million last year over the MAX grounding. Otherwise its costs, which the company projected Wednesday to be $18.4 billion, would have been half a billion steeper.

The filing also disclosed a further negative detail that went unmentioned in Wednesday’s earnings report:

In the fourth quarter, the jet maker took yet another write-off for extra costs to fix technical and quality issues with the Air Force KC-46 tanker amounting to $148 million.

Added to KC-46 charges in previous years — $425 million in 2014; $835 million in 2015; $1.13 billion in 2016; $445 million in 2017; and $736 million in 2018 — that brings the grand total of Boeing’s tanker-program write-offs to $3.7 billion.