In 2009, General Motors and Chrysler both got government bailouts and entered bankruptcy, and auto sales hit a 30-year low. The United Auto Workers agreed to a contract that allowed Detroit's carmakers to hire some new workers at $14 per hour, or half the starting pay of workers at that time. While the UAW doesn't represent workers at foreign-owned plants, those companies - like Volkswagen - generally match UAW pay. In June of that year, about 623,000 people were employed by the auto industry in the United States, the fewest since the early 1980s.
Now the figure is almost 700,000, a 12 percent increase.
Automakers are hiring again because car sales are rising. Americans bought 10.4 million cars and trucks in 2009 and 11.6 million in 2010. This year, they're on track to buy 13 million or more, and auto companies are adding shifts to meet the demand.
The auto industry's 12 percent increase in jobs compares with a 0.2 percent gain for the economy as a whole, excluding farming and adjusted for seasonal variation, since June 2009. The Labor Department reports Friday on jobs gained or lost last month.
In a normal economic recovery, improvement in the housing market leads the way by creating construction jobs. But home prices haven't stopped falling, and the construction industry has shed 8 percent of its workers since June 2009 - 474,000 jobs in all.
Your wish of killing the auto companies will not be fulfilled this time. And UAW membership is doing OK.
The UAW union ended 2010 with $1.07 billion in assets, a decline from $1.12 billion in assets at the beginning of the year. Total liabilities also declined to $4.58 million from $5.6 million at the start of the year.
The UAW’s membership grew 6% in 2010 to 376,612, according to an annual report the union filed today with the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s also the first time the union’s membership has increased since 2005, according to its annual reports.