American Auto Industry Putting People Back to Work
The auto industry is expected to add nearly 200,000 jobs by 2015.
In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama hyped the recovery of the American auto industry, essentially claiming credit for getting the struggling business on its feet. Whether or not his administration deserves all the praise for its resurgence, the fact is the once-dying industry is in the stages of a robust recovery and thus ready for a period of growth. And when any industry grows, that means jobs.
According to the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research, this growth will be complimented by a sharp rise in employment. American car makers employed around 566,400 workers in 2010; that number is expected to leap by nearly 200,000 to total 756,800 in 2015. Predictably, most of those new jobs will be based in the car industry's traditional home of Michigan. This would be a great help to the state, as it's currently suffering from one of the highest unemployment rates in America (at 9.3% as of this past December according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one full percentage point higher than the national figure).
It's not only the wolverine state that will benefit, however. Car manufacturers operate numerous facilities outside of Michigan, most prominently in business-friendly southern states. Last autumn, for example, Ford announced it would invest $1.1 billion and create 1,600 new jobs in its Claycomo factory near Kansas City, Missouri. Those numbers are significant because the move will result in a total of 5,400 workers - an over 40% increase from current employment rolls at the factory. Meanwhile, last month BMW announced it would make a big investment of nearly $900 million in its Spartanburg, South Carolina plant, which will produce the company's upcoming X4 model. Further north, Honda announced plans to invest an additional $50 million to boost capacity in one of its Ohio plants.
The expected job increases will achieve the double win of easing unemployment and boosting American manufacturing, which is critical if this country is going to compete with lower-wage countries around the globe. Although our auto industry will likely never employ the armies it once did (in 1999, 1.1 million people worked in the sector), its recovery will help get people off the unemployment line. Although our jobless situation is improving, we could still very much use the work.