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Pro-MPG Group Says Fuel Efficiency Key To Auto Industry Hiring

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Cleveland Engine Plant  (Photo by Shaun Heasley/Getty Images)

Cleveland Engine Plant (Photo by Shaun Heasley/Getty Images)

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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DETROIT — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report for September shows continued steady jobs growth in the U.S. auto sector. According to an analysis of BLS data by DrivingGrowth.org, a Web site tracking the revitalization of the U.S auto industry, September data show over 1.8 million workers in all sectors of the U.S. auto industry, including car and truck manufacturing, auto parts manufacturing, and auto dealerships.

More than 231,000 jobs have been added since June of 2009, and company announcements of their expansion and hiring plans indicate that the effort to improve U.S. fuel efficiency remains a key driver of auto sector job growth.

“There’s a lot of talk about job creators these days and the latest hiring reports make it clear that clean cars should be lauded as one of the U.S. economy’s biggest job creators,” said Luke Tonachel, senior vehicles analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of three environmental organizations sponsoring the DrivingGrowth.org Web site, along with the National Wildlife Federation and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. “The industry-wide effort to boost fuel economy and reduce tailpipe emissions is driving big sales. And that means jobs in auto plants, parts plants, and the labs for engineering and design. Better cars are helping lead to more jobs.”

The Chrysler assembly plant on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit is a great example of the trend, the groups say. More than 1,000 new workers are being added to help build a new generation of more fuel efficient SUVs, including the Dodge Durango.

Robert Figlioli, vice president of UAW Local 7, says higher fuel economy standards can translate into more vehicle sales:

“Some of the new standards the government is coming out with, we all understand why they’re doing it,” Figlioli said. “It’s to protect our environment; one of the main reasons is to not be so dependent on foreign oil… If you can get an SUV with better gas mileage, people are going to buy a lot more of our product.”

“These new cars and trucks show we can protect the environment for our kids and rebuild American jobs and prosperity at the same time,” said Zoe Lipman, senior manager for transportation solutions at the National Wildlife Federation. “Greater innovation, added technology, growing advanced manufacturing in America – all that means more jobs.”

“Auto plants in the Midwest are humming again,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “The cars and trucks coming out of them are more efficient than ever, saving consumers serious money at a time of high gas prices.”

State-by-state data, which lag national data and are now available for August, indicate substantial job growth in the past three years in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, home to more than one third of the nation’s auto manufacturing employment.

* Michigan has gained 33,400 auto and auto parts manufacturing jobs, an increase of 32 percent since June 2009.
* Indiana has gained 19,800 jobs, an increase of 39.8 percent.
* Ohio has gained 9,600 jobs, an increase of 14.7 percent.

Those state numbers do not include employment growth at auto dealerships, which has also rebounded since the recession of 2008 and 2009.

Reports from auto and parts manufacturers indicate that job retention and creation is increasingly driven by production of vehicles intended to meet new federal fuel efficiency and emission requirements, which require the U.S. fleet to reach the equivalent of 54.5 mpg by 2025.

In addition to more than 1,000 jobs being added at Chrysler’s Detroit plant, recent announcements show auto companies continue to invest in fuel efficient vehicles throughout the Midwest.

Michigan
* 1,200 new jobs in Flat Rock. In September, Ford announced it will add jobs to assemble the high-mileage Ford Fusion. Earlier model-year Fusions were produced solely in Mexico.
* Employment doubles to more than 300 jobs in Pontiac. Also in September, GM announced a $30 million investment in its Pontiac stamping facilities, where employment has doubled since 2010 to 345 jobs. The plant provides stamping for the Chevy Sonic, the Chevy Volt, and other high mileage vehicles.

Ohio
* 5,000 jobs preserved in Lordstown, Ohio. In August, confirmed a $200 million investment in Lordstown, Ohio, where more than 5,000 workers are currently employed building the fuel-efficient Chevy Cruze and Cruze Eco.
* Hiring throughout Ohio: In August, Honda reported it has been hiring at multiple facilities throughout Ohio, to support production of the high-mileage Honda Accord. In addition to supporting U.S. sales, the company exports the vehicle from Ohio to more than 30 countries overseas.

Indiana
* 300 Jobs in Greensburg: Honda announced in July it will invest $40 million and hire 300 workers to produce the Civic Hybrid and other high mileage vehicles at its plant in Greensburg, Ind., which will serve as an export for global markets.
* 325 jobs in Anderson: Also in July, Greenville Technologies, an auto supplier, broke ground on a new plant in Anderson, Indiana to supply injection moldings to the high-mileage vehicles in Honda’s Greensburg plant. The plant is projected to employ 325 workers when it reaches full production.
* 50 jobs in Shelbyville: In September, Faeza Alloyers, a Mexican-owned firm, announced plans to invest $7.6 million to build its first U.S. plant. The company, a metal alloys fabricator, will supply a nearby Ryobi Die Casting plants. Ryobi supplies aluminum components for automotive powertrains; increased use of aluminum is a key factor in reducing the weight of U.S. vehicles and increasing fuel economy.

More than 1,000 engineering jobs nationwide
* U.S. automakers, according to reports on CNBC and in the Detroit Free Press, are now competing with high tech software companies for engineering talent. Auto and parts manufacturers are seeking skilled engineers to design and develop the next generation of highly fuel-efficient, low emission vehicles. The opportunity to have a major impact on industry and help protect the environment, recruiters say, is an important part of the pitch to attract top quality employees.

In addition to videos documenting production and research into fuel economy and lower emissions at Chrysler, BorgWarner, Nexteer and the University of Michigan, the www.DrivingGrowth.org Web site also includes an archive of news stories related to fuel efficiency and lower auto emissions; data on automotive job growth, infographics describing the consumer, environmental and economic benefits of fuel economy and emissions standards, a catalog of research studies and reports, and blogs by environmental and industry insiders.

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