Over 600 NASA lab employees and contractors have found themselves out of work this year. Now, Long Beach officials are hoping to bring some of that talent to the city’s burgeoning aerospace sector.

Last week, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a research and development lab in Pasadena federally funded by NASA and managed by CalTech, announced it would lay off 530 employees, or 8% of its workforce, as well as 40 contractors. In a Feb. 6 memo, Director Laurie Leshin said JPL is bracing for a 63% budget reduction to $300 million — less than one-third of the $949 million requested by the Biden administration for the Mars Sample Return mission, which is headed by JPL.

The announcement came about a month after the lab announced 100 contractors would be laid off.

“This is a rare opportunity to connect available industry talent directly with the multitude of companies looking to fill vacancies as they are expanding and growing in Long Beach,” Bo Martinez, director of Economic Development, said in a statement. “We are confident that this job fair will result in many successful matches and help boost our local economy and innovation ecosystem.’’


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Economic Development and the Pacific Gateway Workforce Innovation Network are hosting a hiring event Friday, Feb. 23 to connect those affected by the JPL layoffs with aerospace companies in Long Beach — the fastest-growing sector in the city. Participating companies include ABL Space Systems, AIBOT, Auriga Space, Benmo, Boeing, ExLabs, JetZero, NuSpace, Relativity Space, Rocket Lab, Vast Space and more, according to the announcement.

“It is imperative for the success of the regional space and aerospace sector to retain as much talent in Southern California as possible,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in the announcement.

The firms are looking to fill various positions in engineering, design, software development, project management and operations. The event is also open to any Long Beach residents with “matching skill sets,” according to the announcement.

“We are committed to supporting the workforce needs of our space and aerospace industry partners and the career aspirations of our residents,” Alisa Munoz, acting executive director of Pacific Gateway, said in a statement. “We know that there are impacted employees of NASA JPL living in Long Beach so what a great way to help them quickly recover by finding opportunities closer to home.”

The job fair is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the WorkPlace facility at 4811 Airport Plaza Drive. Click here to register. For more information, contact Pacific Gateway at 562-570-3700.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.