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More on the auto bailout

Tom Jackson • Mar 23, 2010 at 6:27 PM

Plain Dealer columnist Thomas Suddes, in yesterday’s paper, has an impassioned column arguing that Congress needs to to move quickly to bail out the Big Three automakers.

As Suddes rightly points out, the debate in Congress is largely regional. Saving the domestic carmakers is a much bigger deal in Michigan and Ohio than in much of the rest of the country.

A couple of points: Suddes appears to understate the importance of automaking in Ohio’s economy, perhaps because he chooses to focus on domestic plants, (or, another way to put it, UAW plants.) He mentions that according to the Ohio Department of Development, about 15,000 work for GM, 11,000 for Ford, almost 7,000 Chrysler and almost 6,000 for Delphi. That’s a total of 39,000, with 33,000 making cars and car parts for the Big Three.

Figures for employment in Ohio compiled by labor market economists working for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services show that in October 2008 some 23,000 Ohioans worked in motor vehicle plants and 73,900 worked in plants that make auto parts — a total of 96,900 Ohioans.

A second point: The number of Ohioans who make a living making cars or car parts has fallen a lot, and likely will continue to drop, regardless of whether Congress takes action.

In 1990, according to the JFS labor market office, there were 140,600 Ohioans making motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts. That’s a decline of 43,700 jobs in 18 years, about 30 percent.

The situation would probably be worse, except for the fact that Honda’s successful Marysville plant employs 5,250 people, and Honda has manufacturing at three other Ohio locations (another 5,700 people). That’s 10,950 people in Honda’s Ohio manufacturing plants, and that figure doesn’t include five other Ohio Honda operations listed on the company’s Web site.

Footnote: U.S. Sen. George Voinovich has released a letter to the Congressional leadership, asking for quick action to hep domestic carmakers.

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