MOBILE, Ala. -- The U.S. auto industry is fueling double-digit job growth in at least one part of the country.
A new survey in Alabama identified 44,834 auto manufacturing jobs in the state at the end of 2005, a 44 percent increase since a 2003 survey. At that time, Alabama automakers and suppliers employed 31,197 people. In 2001, the count was 26,932.
The rise has accompanied a steady increase in the number of manufacturing plants in Alabama in the past few years. The 2005 survey identified 263 parts factories and vehicle assembly plants in Alabama, up from 207 two years earlier. In 2002, the count was 162.
More than half of the jobs in the state are concentrated in four counties.
The four surround the assembly plants owned by DaimlerChrysler in Vance, Honda Motor Co. in Lincoln, Hyundai Motor Co. in Montgomery and a Toyota Motor Corp. truck engine plant in Huntsville.
The survey was conducted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville on behalf of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association, which has 444 auto-related members.
According to survey data, average auto manufacturing wages rose across the state. But the average increase was diluted by the influx of starting workers at base wages.
In 2003, Alabama's average auto manufacturing worker earned $48,818, not including benefits. In 2005, the average increased 2 percent to $49,783.
To compile the survey, researchers excluded factory jobs that are not directly involved in automotive work, even if the plant's primary business is automotive.
The state's manufacturers have not been immune to the troubles experienced by the rest of the U.S. industry. According to the survey, seven Alabama automotive plants closed in 2004 and 2005, and three others ceased to operate in the auto sector. Those changes cut 430 auto jobs.
You may e-mail Lindsay Chappell at [email protected]