Detroit Big 3 Scrambling to Keep Up with Auto Sales

Just three short years after the entire US auto industry nearly came crashing down, Detroit’s Big 3 are flourishing, as sales are expected to top 14 million this year after totaling 12.8 million in 2011. As a result, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have gone on a hiring spree, adding shifts and hiring workers at plants all over the country to keep up with demand. The entire US auto sector, carmakers and parts companies included, added 38,000 jobs in 2011, reaching a total of 717,000 US workers for the sector. And companies have already announced plans to hire another 13,000 workers this year, mostly on night shifts.

There is a downside to the success, however, as Detroit’s factory network is being strained, as is the network of companies that manufacture parts for the automakers. This could lead to shortages that drive up the price of certain parts, and the cars they are used in. And auto executives are nervous, afraid of hiring too rampantly and driving up costs too high, a predicament that fueled the auto sector crisis in the first place.

Nonetheless, the rebound of the Big 3 in part justifies the massive bailouts of GM and Chrysler in 2008, and gives President Obama ammo as his November re-election bid approaches. GOP frontrunner staunchly opposed the bailouts, while Obama and his predecessor George W. Bush supported the moves.