Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Auto industry jobs in Indiana top 100,000 again

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Recent hiring at auto plants and parts suppliers across Indiana has pushed total employment in the state’s auto industry back over 100,000 — a jump of more than 25 percent from its low point last year.

Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that Indiana’s auto industry employment reached 100,400 in August after bottoming out at 78,700 in June 2009, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported.

Much of that hiring has been done at the hundreds of suppliers that do work for the state’s four large assembly plants. Two of those plants, General Motors’ truck assembly factory near Fort Wayne and the Subaru factory in Lafayette, have expanded production recently.

Kim Hill, director of the Automotive Communities Partnership at the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan, said she believes it is just a matter of time before Toyota’s plant in Princeton and the Honda factory in Greensburg also increase production and hiring.

“It has to go up,” Hill said. “There’s a lot of macroeconomic trends in the industry’s favor.”

The increase in production is actually slower than economists predicted at the start of the year, Hill said. U.S. auto sales are expected to reach 11.5 million this year compared to previous annual sales of 15 million.

The added Indiana jobs come in such places as Ryobi Die Casting in Shelbyville, which is adding about 70 jobs through next year with a new production line to build transmission casings for Hyundai. The factory has increased employment from 646 to 766 since January because of more orders from Ford and General Motors, said John Chrzanowski, the plant’s human resources director.

Subaru, which has 3,300 workers in Lafayette, said last month it was converting 100 temporary positions to permanent jobs. The factory uses 28 suppliers in Indiana, many of which are working overtime to keep up with the demand, said Tom Easterday, senior vice president at Subaru of Indiana Automotive.

Carol Rodgers, deputy director of Indiana University’s Indiana Business Research Center, said it appeared more of the auto industry hiring was for permanent jobs. She said she doubted auto sector jobs in Indiana will reach 2004 levels of 140,000, but that it could reach 120,000.

Easterday agreed the previous job levels might be a thing of the past.

“Automakers are a lot more efficient, so it doesn’t require as many man-hours per unit to build a vehicle,” Easterday said. “Same thing with parts. So the employment numbers may not go back up proportionally to what it was prior to the recession.”

 

 

 Posted 10/5/2010

 

 

 

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