Economy Still Recovering Despite Weak Data: Ford Chief

Ford's Louisville, Kentucky Assembly Plant
Source: Facebook
Ford's Louisville, Kentucky Assembly Plant

Ford Motor Executive Chairman William Ford told CNBC Friday the U.S. economy is still in "recovery mode" despite recent weak data on jobs and manufacturing.

Ford said Friday's jobs report data were "disappointing but I do think the underlying economy is still going forward. it’s been a very slow recovery but I still think we’re in the recovery mode."

The automaker will be adding 7,000 jobs over the next few years after years of downsizing, Ford said, but those won't be "the old smokestack, rust belt" jobs of the factory line. "These are more the kind of high-tech, cleaner manufacturing jobs. That’s the wave of the future."

He is also concerned about manufacturing. Datareleased Wednesday found U.S. manufacturing growth at its weakest level since September 2009.

"You can’t have a great country unless you have a great manufacturing base," Ford went on to say.

However, he has seen over the last few years, "with all the trouble that industry went through in this country" that "there’s been a rebirth in people’s minds in terms of the importance of manufacturing."

Ford said whenever Chief Executive Alan Mulally steps down there is a succession plan in place, although he gave no details.

"One of the things that’s happened under Alan’s leadership is the team has really developed as well," Ford added. "So I think when the time comes for Alan to leave, and it won’t be soon, we’ll have great choices. I hope he stays a long, long time."

Correction: An earlier version of this report incorrectly said Ford was hiring 700,000 workers. The company is actually hiring 7,000.