Last week, the number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest in years, which is now being attributed to a robust automotive industry that is refusing to rest on its laurels at a time when it typically lays off a huge number of workers.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, a number of automakers skipped over their seasonal slowdown to keep up with demand. New car and truck sales surged last month, prompting companies to keep their automotive staffing strong, and even leading some to hire for the increase in demand.
Historically, car companies shut the doors to their plants for the first two weeks in July as they prepare them to produce the newest models. But Ford announced in May that it planned to only shut down production for one week, while Chrysler said it was opting out of the seasonal lull.
Still, economists say there is always the possibility the trend could be reversed.
"Take July with a grain of salt," Jill Brown, an economist at Credit Suisse, said in a note to clients. The auto shutdowns "often cause extreme volatility."
One automotive parts manufacturing plant in Kentucky is doing Chrysler one better, by not only keeping up the pace of production, but increasing its automotive staffing by 60 people to a total of 206.
Rubber & Plastics Hebron LLC announced on July 12 that it plans to add the new jobs to its Northern Kentucky manufacturing plant as part of a $17.9 million investment to expand its facility by 52,000 square feet. The facility will produce bushing, engine mounts, anti-vibration products and plastic components crucial for auto manufacturers.
"We’re pleased to see growth here in Northern Kentucky, especially from a company that has been such an important part of this community for nearly two decades," said Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.
Kentucky is currently home to more than 440 automotive parts manufacturing companies, which altogether support more than 68,000 jobs. What's more, the state is regarded as the third-highest employer auto-related jobs as a percent of total state employment among the largest motor vehicle manufacturing states in the country.
More than 400 foreign companies are active in the state, accounting for another 76,000 jobs.