To add to the increased although guarded economic optimism that we’ve been hearing recently with reductions in unemployment, and increased consumer spending and tourism, the U.S. auto industry is poised to add thousands of jobs during 2012 as their sales continue to improve and they recover from the historic lows they witnessed during the recession.
Some of the recent announcements of auto industry hiring include:
- Mercedes-Benz and BMW announced recently that they would add a total of 1,500 jobs at plants in the Carolinas during 2012.
- Ford Motor and Chrysler Group announced in the last few weeks that they would hire almost 6,000 factory workers in plants in Michigan, Kentucky and Illinois.
- Tesla Motors and Coda Automotive plan to increase employment in California as they bring vehicles to market during 2012.
- Japanese automakers are currently adding workers as they shift more production to the U.S. in order to avoid profit erosion caused by the increased value of the yen.
- Nissan plans to add about 1,000 workers in Tennessee as it increases production of the Leaf electric vehicle and its batteries, as well as new Pathfinder and Infiniti SUVs.
- Audi executives said they will build a U.S. factory, possibly at the Volkswagen complex in Chattanooga, Tenn.
- South Korean automotive siblings Hyundai and Kia are said to be considering a major expansion in the South.
Some of the new jobs added in the auto industry will be at a lower wage — about $15 to $16 an hour — than the base wage of about $28 to $29 earned by current workers because of recent labor agreements. Each company with a labor contract will determine how many of the hires are recalled workers and how many are new hires
Automakers sold 12.8 million vehicles last year, a 10.3% increase from 2010 and the most since 2008. Sales are expected to reach about 13.8million this year. The growth is increasing hiring with total payrolls at U.S. auto plants expected to reach 650,000 in 2012. And there are continued positive growth expectations with forecasts of 750,000 workers to be employed in U.S. auto plants by 2015.
However, looking back 10 years ago, there were almost 1 million auto workers in the U.S. Employment decreased steadily as the decade wore on almost 200,000 workers were fired during the recession. At its low, the U.S. auto industry employed 550,000 workers. Hiring began to grow slowly over the last two years. With the new U.A.W. contract now settled during the late summer 2010 and wages under control, the industry is showing stability not seen for decades. 01.14.2012