You know the talk about a "jobless recovery"? It's not true in this corner of the economy.
The U.S. auto industry is hiring. General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and numerous suppliers indicate that the auto sector is expanding manufacturing to prepare for a more robust economy in the year to come.
Toyota is one month away from opening an auto plant in Tupelo, Miss., that it put on the back burner in 2009. David Copenhaver, the plant's vice president of administration, says 1,000 recent hires already are assembling preproduction Corollas. Toyota has begun hiring another 1,000 workers for a second shift that will come on line next year.
Honda intends to add a 1,000-worker second shift building Civics this year at its plant in Greenville, Ind. Honda also said last month that it will spend $50 million and hire 100 workers to expand transmission production in Ohio from 800,000 units a year to 1 million, as part of a three-year, $400 million multiplant upgrade there.
Ford is wrapping up its hiring of 1,800 workers for its renovated assembly plant in Louisville, Ky. About 600 of those are new hires; the rest are workers called back from layoff or transfers from other Ford plants.
GM and the UAW reached a labor agreement last month that will create or preserve 6,400 U.S. jobs, with a potential for 760 additional new jobs.
Among a slew of new manufacturing projects contained in the agreement is the restart of GM's idled assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tenn.
Nissan is considering building a new small Infiniti hatchback in the United States. If it gets the green light, the hatchback will be the fourth model Nissan has added to its U.S. factories in recent years.
Nissan is spending $1.6 billion to introduce the electric Leaf and battery manufacturing in Smyrna, Tenn., along with the Rogue cross-over and the upcoming three-row Infiniti JX crossover.
Some of the hiring aims to meet immediate demand. The industry is still restoring some jobs after slashing many more during the recession. And suppliers and automakers are gearing up in part to rebuild inventories that were depleted by production shortfalls after the March 11 Japanese earthquake.