For years, UAW critics have fingered high hourly labor costs for the Detroit 3's problems. But that rant has lost some of its oomph.
Next year the Detroit 3's white-collar labor costs in the United States will exceed their blue-collar labor costs for the first time in decades, says Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The crossover happened as UAW membership at the Detroit 3 fell to 110,150 today from 250,000 in 2005. Meanwhile, employment for higher-paid salaried employees rebounded to 64,852 today from a recent low of 55,549 in 2009. That number is expected to grow to 66,000 next year, McAlinden says.
With the average salaried employee receiving salary of $122,500, compared with $69,000 for a UAW factory worker, salaried employees will begin next year to account for a bigger share of the Detroit 3 payroll than their UAW counterparts.