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Start your engines! The auto industry is back in business

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The automotive industry is on the move -- literally. The recent restructuring of GM and Chrysler coupled with a slowly rebounding economy has translated into profits for both the "big three" automakers and other brands as well. With new fleets of Equinoxes to Explorers hitting the road daily, the demand for jobs within the industry is growing -- and you don't have to move to Motor City to get one.

German car manufacturer Volkswagen, for example, announced in March the hiring of 800 new jobs at its manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., to meet increasing demands for its U.S.-produced Passat. This comes on the heels of a previous announcement of 200 new jobs bringing the 2012 total at its Tennessee plant to 1,000.  It also announced a 30,000-foot expansion of its Libertyville, Ill., facility and the hiring of an additional 150 employees through 2018.

Also in Illinois, Chrysler announced in February the addition of an astonishing 1,800 new jobs at its plant in Belvidere and will begin making the new Dodge Dart compact automobile there this summer.

General Motors also has good news. In April, it broke ground on a new $200 million stamping facility (stampings include doors, hoods and side panels) that will likely add 180 new jobs to its Arlington, Texas, manufacturing plant.

Honda, meanwhile, announced in December that its Greensburg, Ind., plant will become the exclusive manufacturer of the luxury Acura ILX, which begins mass production this spring and has already brought with it 1,000 new jobs.

Hyundai remains committed to the Wolverine State with the announcement of its new Hot/Cold Weather Dynamometer test facility in Superior Township, Mich., and is expected to add 50 full-time jobs over the next three years.

A segment of the labor force that's in particularly high demand right now is engineers. In April, for example, Toyota announced the hiring of 150 engineers, technicians, advanced researchers and scientists at its Ann Arbor and Saline locations by the end of 2012. Additionally, it will add another 100 jobs over the next five years.

Automakers aren't the only ones ramping up. ThyssenKrupp Presta Terre Haute LLC, an Indiana-based manufacturer of steering systems for automobiles, announced in April that it intends to expand its Vigo County facility by nearly 70,000 square feet and, with it, an additional 120 jobs. Elsewhere in the Hoosier State, Federal-Mogul Corp., a manufacturer of fuel systems for the automotive industries (among others), is adding 100 jobs at its Logansport plant as part of its $2.7 million expansion.

The projected jobs forecast for the industry is robust for the decade ahead, albeit mixed depending on the skill set. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, the field of automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow 17%, about as fast as average for the nation. The retail sales force, including car dealers, is also expected to grow at 17%. Meanwhile, the demand for engineers is expected to grow at rate of 6-9% depending on the specific field, which is slower than the national average, even though engineers are currently in high demand.

Last Updated: 16/05/2012 - 10:38 AM

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