Auto manufacturers and related businesses employ as many as 3.1 million workers across the United States, a broad network of jobs that loom large for federal officials considering taking steps to bolster domestic carmakers whose plummeting sales have created a cash crisis that threatens the very concept of the Big Three.Also, the problems in our economy aren't totally because of the housing crisis:
Every direct job at an automaker in the United States creates five more jobs, said Sean McAlinden, chief economist and vice president for research for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. Two of the five are related to suppliers or dealers; the other three are spinoff jobs at businesses where auto industry workers spend their paychecks.
The next closest industry to autos is high-tech, where each job creates a total of four, including spinoffs, he said. By contrast, one Wall Street position creates a total of about 2.5 jobs, yet Congress expedited aid to the financial services sector this year.
Declining auto sales have contributed to the nation's economic downturn, but that hasn't diminished the industry's importance, said Charles Chesbrough, senior economist for CSM Worldwide in Northville, an automotive market research firm.The Center for Automotive Research plans on releasing an analysis later this week of the impact it would have on our economy if one of the Big Three fail. It goes beyond job losses.
"We won't see a turnaround in the economy as a whole," he said, "until we see improvement in the auto industry."
McAlinden said the resulting drop in tax income and other losses over three years would far exceed the amount being sought in government aid. When the jobs tied to everything from buying a car to washing it and refining the gas that fuels it are added to the total, more than 14 million U.S. workers -- about 1 in 10 -- can draw a line from their job back to an auto factory or office worker, according to CAR.Scary stuff to even contemplate.
(Cross-posted at Blogging for MI)