No Auto Resurgence Yet

In The Detroit News today, Daniel Howes writes, “In less than two years, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC morphed from bankrupt basket cases rescued by the feds into profitable automakers with new leadership, re-energized product lines and expanding work forces.” While the Detroit 3 are now profitable and optimistic, it may be premature to say that they have expanding workforces. While auto jobs are no longer being lost at their decade-long steady pace, clear job gains have yet to be prevalent.

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The state has only 37 percent of the auto and parts manufacturing jobs that it had in 2000, falling from 325,000 jobs in 2000 to 120,000 jobs in 2010. This industry reported as few as 104,000 jobs at its trough, but has stuck around the 120,000 mark for the past two years.

The auto bailout was intended to prop up two of the Big Three, but Michigan's economy is much more than just the auto industry. That’s why the survival of these companies has yet to translate into job growth for Michigan.

Of course, there’s more to the industry in Michigan than just manufacturing -- there’s an entire support industry of advertising, management, finance and other jobs. But even closely related industry classifications like the "management of companies and enterprises" and auto retailing jobs demonstrate the same trends.

The significant job impact of this industry shows that Michigan could gain a lot from its growth. But there is no indication in the data that the Michigan auto industry will return to its 2006 employment levels, let alone its 2000 peak.

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