After implementing dire cutbacks in staff and production during the economic downturn, automakers have been on a hiring spree, staffing nearly 40,000 positions in 2011.
After eliminating 88,000 positions and shutting down 28 plants during the last economic downturn, automakers are struggling to meet demand with their existing capacity, according to USA Today. A total of 234,000 jobs were eliminated at companies that supply parts to the automakers, The Associated Press reports.
Jim Tetreault, Ford's vice president of North America manufacturing, told the media outlet that his company is "squeezing every last component, transmission, engine out of the existing brick and mortar."
Sales of the vehicles that these companies produce are now surging, and could hit surpass 14 million units this year, according to the news source. Sales of cars, trucks and other vehicles reached 12.8 million in 2011.
The combination of robust demand and limited resources could lead to shortages in production, which would cause costs to surge, the media outlet reports. Factories will be utilizing 90 percent of their capacity if sales increase to 14 million, according to USA Today.
On top of the 38,000 employees that were added in 2011, automakers have stated their intention to hire an additional 13,000 workers in 2012, according to The Associated Press .
If sales hit 15 million by 2015 as certain market experts have predicted, the major Detroit automakers could end up staffing an additional 20,000 roles, Automotive Research chief economist Sean McAlinden told the news source.
Citi Investment Research auto analyst Itay Michaeli told the media outlet that "you can only squeeze so much out of the same amount of people."
Automotive jobs have also been bolstered by foreign carmakers, who have been moving production as a result of strong sales and a weak dollar, according to the media outlet. Many companies in this industry that are headquartered in other countries have been hiring workers in the United States.
An example of a company that is benefiting from surging sales of vehicles is Electricfil Corporation, an automotive supplier which has announced that it may hire as many as 200 new workers in Alabama through 2017 as part of an expansion worth $9.5 million, The News Courier reports. The company has stated that it plans to hire 120 people through 2015 and as many as 80 more workers between 2016 and 2017.
The first phase of the expansion will involve adding 24,000 square feet to a manufacturing facility and the second phase will involve constructing a 18,000-square-foot building, according to the media outlet. The upgraded manufacturing plant will be operational in July 2012, and the new office will be ready for use sometime in 2013.
Limestone County Economic Development Association president Tom Hill told the news source that he is very excited by the magnitude of the company's plans to expand, and the number of jobs it could create for people in the region.
He told the media outlet that "they’ve been here since 2004 and have done a really good job of meeting the needs of the automotive industry, and they’ve been rewarded with a lot of new business that will allow them to expand the facility."
He added that "it’s a real positive step for Limestone County and Elkmont. We’re happy they’re expanding and we look forward to assisting them in the future."
Elkmont Mayor Tracy Compton told the news source that if the company ends up staffing 200 new positions by 2017, the facilities in the area will have almost as many employees as his town has residents.