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Automobile industry information


The U.S. automobile industry can be viewed as both a barometer and beneficiary of American growth and economic achievement. Supporting that view is the fact that the automobile industry affects industries that manufacture steel, glass, plastics, and rubber, as well as those that refine and sell gasoline, build roads, and maintain, repair, and sell motor vehicles.

Motor vehicles also affect our daily lives. In 2010, on an average day, 67.6 percent of the civilian noninstitutional population aged 15 and over drove; those who drove spent on average 1 hour and 18 minutes driving.

The structure of the U.S. automobile industry has changed. Several domestic automakers have lost market share to foreign-owned manufacturers, which now manufacture and sell an increasing number of cars in the United States and throughout North America.

In this Spotlight we present BLS data to provide insight into employment within the motor vehicle and parts manufacturing industry, motor vehicle-related expenditures on the part of U.S. households, injuries experienced by those who work on motor vehicles, and industry productivity.

The Price of Automobiles

Price is an important consideration to consumers when they begin the search for a new, used, or leased automobile. Since mid-2008, the prices of new, used, and leased cars and trucks have been more volatile than in previous years. The price of leased cars and trucks increased from October 2007 to November 2009, while the price of used cars and trucks declined from June 2008 to September 2009. In contrast, the price of leased cars and trucks declined from January 2010 to September 2011 while the price of used cars and trucks increased from October 2009 to September 2011. In comparison to prices of used and leased cars and trucks, prices of new cars and trucks have typically increased and decreased at smaller rates since 2003.

Twelve-month percent change in the cost of new, used, and leased cars and trucks, January 2003–September 2011 Source: Consumer Price Index | Chart Data

What We Spend on Vehicle Expenses

Household expenditures associated with maintaining and operating a vehicle vary by region. In 2010, households in the Northeast region of the United States spent, on average, more on vehicle insurance than the amount spent by households residing in other regions. Compared to households residing in other U.S. regions, households in the Northeast region spent, on average, less on vehicle finance charges and gasoline and motor oil, while households in the South region spent the most on those same items.

Average annual expenditures on selected expenses related to owning or leasing a vehicle, by region of residence, 2010 Source: Consumer Expenditure Survey | Chart Data

Employment and Hours of Production Workers

Employment of workers in the motor vehicle and parts manufacturing industry steadily decreased from mid-2006 until mid-2009. Average weekly hours of production workers fell from 43.0 in February 2008 to 37.4 in May 2009. Since mid-2009 employment has slowly increased, while average weekly hours among production workers sharply increased until late 2009 and has fluctuated since then.

Source: Current Employment Statistics | Chart Data

State Employment

In 2010, more than half of total employment in the motor vehicle manufacturing industry was located in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.

Since 1990 (the start of the data series), among all states, Michigan has had the highest employment in the motor vehicle manufacturing industry. Michigans employment in this industry has decreased from 102, 000 jobs in 1990 to 34, 900 in 2010—a loss of 67, 100 jobs.

Among all states, Alabama experienced the largest increase in employment within the motor vehicle manufacturing industry—from 400 jobs in 1990 to 10, 200 in 2010.

Where are Motor Vehicle Parts Made?

The largest sector of the motor vehicle and parts manufacturing industry is the motor vehicle parts manufacturing industry. The establishments in this industry manufacture electrical and electronic equipment; engines and transmissions; brake systems; seating and interior trim; steering and suspension components; air-conditioners; and motor vehicle stampings, such as fenders, tops, body parts, trim, and molding.

In 2010, there were 5, 784 private business establishments in this industry, employing 415, 180 workers. Michigan led the nation, with 829 private business establishments and 84, 452 employees.

Source: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages | Chart Data

Average weekly hours of production workers and employment in motor vehicle and parts manufacturing, seasonally adjusted, January 2004–September 2011 Employment in the motor vehicle manufacturing industry, selected states, annual averages, not seasonally adjusted, 1990–2010 Annual averages of motor vehicle parts manufacturing establishments, by county, 2010 Employment and wages for selected auto-related occupations, May 2010


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