WASHINGTON - The car companies this week will launch a lobbying blitz aimed at showing lawmakers and other public officials that the automobile industry is vital to every state, not just Michigan and Ohio.
The campaign will be backed up by a newly completed $400,000 study of the industry's economic impact. It found, among other things, that the number of U.S. jobs attributable to vehicle assembly and to the manufacture of major components topped 1 million in 1999 - for the first time since 1978.
More than 6.6 million jobs and $243 billion in compensation are generated nationwide by new-vehicle manufacturing, sales and service, the study found.
The figures include direct jobs, such as those in assembly plants, and spin-off jobs, such as those at supplier companies and at community businesses where auto workers live. Most findings were based on 1998 data. They are broken down state by state.
A lobbying campaign theme is that 'every state is an auto state,' said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which commissioned the study, along with the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers.
The alliance is sponsoring ads in Washington area publications and on radio stations heard in the capital. There also will be signs in subway stations used by congressional staff and others.
Bergquist said the lobbying effort is not aimed at heading off any particular legislative proposals, but it will be useful, for example, for California lawmakers to know their state is now third in the country in automotive employment.
Tim MacCarthy, president of AIAM, said the study findings will be 'arrows in our quiver' whenever industry lobbyists are pushing measures they want or fighting bills they oppose.
The economic study is an expansion of one completed three years ago for AIAM, which dealt only with international-brand companies. Its purpose was to show policymakers that overseas-based automakers were helping the United States economically, not hurting it.
Since then, the Big 3 and international-brand companies have come together in the alliance. Some overseas-based companies also maintain membership in AIAM.
The study for the alliance and AIAM was produced by the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Michigan; the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation at the university's Transportation Research Institute; and the Center for Automotive Research at the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan.