|The Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit serves as the global headquarters of General Motors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Car dealerships and suppliers often sell cars or furnish parts for multiple automakers. Take them out of the equation, and Detroit automakers have the clear lead in direct employment — at assembly, drivetrain, stamping, casting and tooling plants, research and design facilities, U.S. headquarters, testing grounds and the like. GM spokesman Fred Ligouri says GM employs 77,000 Americans. Chrysler's U.S. employment totals 39,200. Ford declined to provide numbers, but the American Automotive Policy Council, a group that represents the Detroit Three, says the Dearborn, Mich., automaker employs about 65,000.
Competitors are catching up. Consider the past decade alone: Miller says Honda "had about 25,000 [or] 26,000" on its U.S. payrolls in the early 2000s, while Schaffner says Toyota employed 30,100 in 2002. That represents roughly even employment over the decade — or, more realistically, recovered momentum since the recession. In 2007, the year before U.S. auto sales went into free fall, Toyota employed nearly 37,000.
Will employment from foreign-owned automakers ever catch up to domestic automakers? After slashing jobs and cutting production, Detroit carmakers are back in the black. Last spring, GM posted its ninth consecutive quarterof profits, and Ford posted its 11th. Chrysler is on track to outpace its 2011 profits by eight times this year. CAR estimates the Detroit Three will have nearly 200,000 Americans on their payrolls by 2015. That's up more than 20,000 from 2011.