News Story

Michigan has 37% of the auto jobs it had at its peak

Elissa Slotkin says Michigan’s auto jobs are “back on top.” But Michigan is far from the good old days

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Lansing, tweeted Jan. 4 that Michigan is back on top when it comes to auto jobs.

Slotkin tweeted: “Michigan is back on top, and with our auto-workers building the next generation of cars in Lansing at the new GM plant, we’re not going anywhere. Manufacturing is coming home to the USA, and with it will come a strong economy and new good-paying jobs.”

But the numbers show that for Michigan, “back on top” in the 2020s is far from the good old days. And the good old days were many decades ago.

James Hohman, director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center, told CapCon that auto and auto parts manufacturing jobs peaked in the state in 1978, at 471,909.

Currently there are 176,400 employees working in the auto and auto parts manufacturing industry. That’s 37% of what it was at the height of the Michigan auto industry.

Hohman said: “We ought not rely on politicians to give an accurate understanding of where tomorrow’s jobs would come from. If we did, everyone would still be working on farms.”

Slotkin is encouraging more electric vehicle production, which will mean a slimmed-down auto industry. CapCon reported in September that Business Insider projects a potential 40% reduction in auto jobs due to the transition to electric vehicles. EV engines have fewer parts than internal combustion. Fewer parts to assemble translates to fewer people required.

“While retraining assembly workers should be easier, electric powertrains have far, far fewer parts than internal combustion engines, and electric vehicle production can get by with a smaller workforce,” Timothy Johnson, a Duke University professor, told The Street.

There was no response to a request for comment from Slotkin’s office.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.