If I asked how many of you think that there are more people employed in the USA making cars and light trucks today than fifteen years ago, I’m guessing that I wouldn’t get many takers. I was equally surprised when my researcher showed me the employment figures for NAICS Code 3363, defined as Motor Vehicle Parts, Motor Vehicle Bodies, Automobiles & Light Trucks. In 1990, 955,100 people were employed in the sector compared to 956,200 in 2005, not a huge increase but much less draconian than I would have guessed from listening to the media.
Granted, there have been some dramatic changes taking place with automotive jobs fleeing traditional upper Midwestern states like MI, OH, IN and others to Southern states such as TN, AL, MS and TX. It has been painful for those who have lost jobs, but given a tremendous economic boost to those communities which have gained new manufacturers in the sector.
A related sector is New Car Dealers (NAICS Code: 44111) which has seen employees grow from 921,600 to 1,138,800 during that same 15 year period. As the number of new auto brands have sprouted and grown, there has been a more dramatic growth taking place in dealerships.
The next time that someone starts bemoaning the loss of automotive jobs in this country, copy down these numbers and show them that conditions aren’t as bad as some would like for you to believe.