A year after dressing down carmakers for cutting U.S. jobs due to trade agreements and automation, has President Donald Trump delivered on his vow to turn the tide?The U.S. president got some good news just four days before the Detroit auto show when Fiat Chrysler announced it would shift production of its Ram 1500 to Michigan, adding 2,500 jobs.
"Thank you Chrysler, a very wise decision," Trump said on Twitter. "The voters in Michigan are very happy they voted for Trump/Pence. Plenty of more to follow!" Notwithstanding FCA's announcement last week, the overall picture for U.S. auto jobs has been much less impressive in the year since Trump became president, jobs figures show. Net employment in the auto sector (manufacturing and suppliers) stood at 783,200 at the end of November, down from 788,900 at the end of 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Overall, U.S. auto employment was down slightly last year. Sales and production were also down, and employment is closely tied to output," said Kristin Dziczek, an expert at the Center for Automotive Research. Under pressure from Trump, General Motors promised last March to add or retain 900 jobs in Michigan over 12 months. But even if the biggest U.S. automaker made good on that pledge, its overall U.S. hourly workforce dropped to 52,000 at the end of 2017 from 55,000 a year earlier.
Data show U.S. car imports have risen from overseas manufacturing centers, including China, India and Mexico, which saw a 9.4 percent rise in car exports to the U.S. in 2017 from a year earlier.