As the Navy's largest shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls is already set to hire some 4,000 workers over the next three to five years. CEO Mike Petters said the company is looking for workers in craft and design positions as the market for shipbuilding is improving. With suppliers in all 50 states and 37,000 employees around the globe, the company builds nuclear-powered aircraft and submarines at its Newport News, Virginia, shipyard, and non-nuclear ships such as cutters and destroyers in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
"We have dozens of crafts that are involved in the building of the ships — it's pipefitters, welders, painters, insulators, sheet metal workers," Petters said. "Just about anything you can imagine you might need in building a city, we use, because, frankly, that is what we are building."
Now Trump is also calling for a major expansion of the U.S. military, to the tune of $603 billion, with a $54 billion budgetary boost in defense spending. Among the president's priorities is to expand the Navy: He's calling for 350 ships, up from today's 274, marking the largest naval buildup since the Cold War.
That move would mean more business and jobs after years of stagnation due to constraints under the government's sequestration of funds. The president has made repeated calls for Congress to eliminate the Defense sequester, which places spending caps until 2021.
"By eliminating the sequester and the uncertainty it creates, it will make it easier for the Navy to plan for the future, and thus control costs and get the best deals for the taxpayer, which of course is very important," Trump said last week at Huntington Ingalls' Newport News shipyard.
Still, a divided Congress stands in Trump's way. "There are political dynamics in Washington that aren't going to let him achieve a larger military without consequences," said Roman Schweizer, senior aerospace defense and policy analyst at Cowen. "I think it's going to be difficult for him to get what he wants."