The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) recently released a landmark study of the impact of motor vehicle parts manufacturing on the U.S. economy, the results of which proved what the industry has long suspected: Motor vehicle parts manufacturers comprise the nation’s leading manufacturing sector.
Motor vehicle parts makers account for 4.5 million private industry jobs and 5.5 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing jobs – a total of 783,100 direct employment jobs and an additional 1.97 million indirect jobs in industries from steel to plastics and technical services that support motor vehicle parts manufacturing.
The MEMA study, “Contribution of the Motor Vehicle Supplier Sector to the Economies of the United States and Its 50 States,” also showed that auto supplier jobs are good jobs, providing almost $253 billion in compensation, or more than $45,000 in average annual compensation per industry worker.
This is the first study ever undertaken that shows the true economic impact of the motor vehicle parts supplier industry. While the total motor vehicle industry is always changing, MEMA’s study clearly establishes auto suppliers as the core of U.S. manufacturing.
The results surprised even the leading expert analysts and observers of U.S. manufacturing. Dr. David Cole of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), which conducted the study, dubbed the supplier industry as “The Invisible Giant of U.S. Manufacturing.”
All roads lead to automotive
In seven of the 50 states, motor vehicle parts manufacturers are the top employers. It’s no surprise that Michigan and its neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio are on the list. But some would be surprised to find Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee on the list. In another nine states, motor vehicle parts manufacturing jobs exceed 15,000: Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Many of these jobs are highly technical since suppliers are responsible for 40 percent of automotive research and development.
A number of factors contributes to the importance of motor vehicle parts manufacturing in our country. Just a few years ago, the vehicle manufacturers were more highly integrated, producing many of the parts in-house for the vehicles they sold. By the beginning of the 21st century, most part-making operations had been moved out of the assembly companies into independent, stand-alone operations selling components to multiple customers. Today, fully two-thirds of the value of the average car or light truck, is provided by original equipment suppliers, represented by the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, MEMA’s OE market segment association.
Another important factor in the economic impact of our industry is the long-standing American love affair with the car. There are 1.2 registered automobiles per person in the United States, according to Automotive Aftermarket Status Report, the annual analysis published by MEMA’s aftermarket segment association, the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA).
Not least among the motor vehicle parts suppliers are the heavy-duty parts suppliers. These manufacturers provide the parts and components, which keep the country’s heavy equipment operating.
Whether the 18-wheelers, which transport goods across the country or the heavy equipment, which supports the U.S. agricultural, forestry, construction and mining industries, heavy duty parts manufacturers are a vital part of the nation’s economy. According to Heavy Duty Truck Maintenance in the U.S.A., published annually by MEMA’s Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA), there are nearly four million class 6 through 8 trucks in operation today averaging 453 billion miles on the job.
The study’s findings make it clear that despite the many challenges facing the industry, automotive suppliers account for more jobs – and provide more economic well-being to more Americans – than any other manufacturing sector.
Robert E. “Bob” McKenna joined the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) as the association president and CEO on Oct. 1, 2004. MEMA, which represents more than 700 motor vehicle product manufacturers with nearly 12,000 U.S. plant locations, supports its members through its three market segment associations: Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) and Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA). “Contribution of the Motor Vehicle Supplier Sector to the Economies of the United States and Its 50 States,” is available on MEMA’s government affairs Web site, www.automotivesupplier.org, and at CAR’s Web site, www.cargroup.org