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Shhh! Don't Look Now, But the Auto Industry is Hiring

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After two years cutting tens of thousands of jobs, there's finally some good news coming from the auto industry. Auto makers are slowly adding jobs at new and existing plants around the country. Granted, the number of jobs coming back are a fraction of those that have been cut. Still, it is a welcome sign the auto makers and the auto industry are laying the groundwork for a hopefully brighter future.

So who's hiring, and why are they hiring?

Some of the jobs are "green oriented" at new plants that will supply build batteries and electric vehicles.

  • GM has opened a battery plant in suburban Detroit that will employ 100 people, and is adding jobs at a Maryland plant to build electric motors.
  • Ford will hire 1,000 by 2012 for a plant in Detroit to build electric cars
  • Some of the jobs coming back are for new or existing plants building internal combustion engine vehicles.
  • Toyota will hire 850 when it adds a second shift at its facility in San Antonio.
  • VW will add 2,000 jobs for a new plant in Chattanooga, TN
  • KIA adding 1,200 in West Point, Georgia.

Does this mean the auto industry has officially seen a bottom when it comes to closing plants and losing jobs? o. In fact, there are many plants from the big three that were targeted for closure that are still being wound down. Take the Toyota NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. When it closes, some of the vehicles made at the plant it once shared with GM, will move to the Toyota plant in Texas. In other words, the industry is still going through the painful process of stripping out excess, inefficient capacity.

This will make some people feel like the addition of roughly 5,000 jobs is nothing to cheer about in an industry that announced or actually cut an estimated 150,000 jobs last year. I'm not dismissing the pain and tough times thousands of auto workers have and continue to go through. At the same time, however, as the auto makers add jobs, even a few hundred at a time, it is welcome news. And with the industry set to build cars if sales stay around 10 million, there will likely be tens of thousands jobs added as sales pick up.

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