By Mark Kleis
Thursday, Mar 15th, 2012 @ 12:01 am
 
Leftlane reported in the closing days of last year that auto parts suppliers in the U.S. were expected to hire as many as 190,000 new workers by 2015, and it appears that things are under way to boost numbers dramatically.

Evidence of that growth was recently shown first hand to National Public Radio, or npr, as they were given a personal tour of supplier Bridgewater Interiors in Warren, Michigan, by vice president Ron Hall. The company executive explained that although the plant is currently hustling to keep up with orders coming from Ford, a short time ago plant workers and owners weren't sure if they would have jobs as General Motors and Chrysler vied for government support.

In fact, the news outlet reports that revenues for auto suppliers were down an average of 40 percent as little as two to three years ago, with many companies either filing for bankruptcy or simply calling it quits completely. Plants that remained in business, like Bridgestone Interiors, had previously laid off workers or forced reduced hours for the few that stayed on, but have now re-hired all workers and then some in many cases.

Are the recent hiring sprees enough?
Despite many suppliers reporting continuous and significant hiring, npr doesn't believe that the current rate will be enough to even hit the 174,000 new hires projected to be needed by 2015. In fact, Sean McAlinden, an economist at the Center for Automotive Research, believes that there is a very real danger that the current hiring pace could lead to a shortage of parts in the near future if expansion of sales continues.

McAlinden says the problem doesn't lie simply with suppliers failing to open their doors again to new hires, but that many skilled workers such as machinists or engineers have already moved into other fields - leaving a talent gap in the short-term. Some workers are afraid to come back to the industry not knowing if the jobs will stay this time, or go away again if the economy - and in turn auto sales - dip again.