Credit: Chrysler (left), Flickr, satomodel (right).... Credit: Chrysler (left), Flickr, satomodel (right).
Back when there was a debate raging about whether the U.S. auto industry was worth a tax-payer financed bailout in 2009, one of the key arguments for the rescue were the jobs that would be preserved, protected and created. Almost four years later, the jobs are growing as consumers go back in droves to replacing their aging cars and trucks.

Since 2009, and after the domestic auto industry was forced to shed jobs in order to get its finances in order, the industry had gained over 217,000 at the end of 2011, including hourly, salaried, supplier, dealership positions, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor. The year-end 2012 numbers are not finalized, but could be as much as an additional 20,000 to 30,000, or more, according to some analysts.

Of course it all depends on how you count job creation. According to George Erickcek, a senior regional economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich., the job multiplier effect of a manufacturing job ranges from three to seven additional jobs, depending on the type of manufacturing: supplier jobs to the manufacturing facility, as well as support services to a manufacturing plant. A service job, meantime, typically creates only about seven-tenths of one additional job.

The true cost of bailing out the car companies, which in turn kept a lot of supplier companies running, is hard to define. The U.S. Treasury put the likely cost at $25 billion after Chrysler and GM paid back its loans and the government sells its stake in GM. But such a number does not take into account the tax revenue that employed workers contribute to the Treasury since then and for years to come, the unemployment benefits not paid out, and of course the value of all those indirect jobs preserved and now being created.

Manufacturing jobs are critical to the economy

Jobs that manufacture high-value products like cars and major appliances are coveted by states because of their multiplier effect. And Governors are much more upset about losing these jobs than they are, say, textile jobs or service jobs like call-centers. Besides the economic impact of the jobs and boost to the tax base, there is greater pride in jobs that make recognizable branded products. And, of course, state governments are relishing being part of a trend of in-sourcing jobs back from Mexico and China to the U.S.

Take Ford's move to move the production of its Fusion sedan from Mexico to Michigan this year. "In-sourcing is an important trend and its coming about because of an exciting mix of new thinking by both companies like Ford, the union and public policy that is making it attractive again to locate manufacturing jobs in the U.S.," said U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis last fall while visiting the Fusion plant in Flat Rock, Michigan.

So where are the jobs now and going forward? currently lists 8,457 open jobs related to the auto industry. That doesn't tell the whole story, but it's a good place to start.

Ford Motor Co. in 2013 plans to hire some 2,200 salaried workers to fill jobs in product development, manufacturing, information technology, sales and marketing. That target follows a year in which Ford created some 8,100 hourly and salaried positions. Ford is more than halfway toward a target of creating 12,000 new hourly jobs by 2015. Ford added 6,500 hourly jobs in 2012 with new shifts at Michigan assembly in Wayne (1,200 jobs), Chicago (1,200), Louisville, Ky., (3,100) and Kansas City, Mo., (800), for a 15% increase in production output.

Chrysler said last November it was adding 1,250 factory jobs in Michigan alone. Another 1,250 jobs is being added in Kokomo Indiana area. It continues to hire white-collar employees too. At Chrysler, entry-level jobs range from posts in human resources to buyers and supply chain management, to unit leaders on the factory floor in Detroit, as well as in Belvidere, IL.

With more experience, there are open marketing jobs at Chrysler like Dodge brand manager and a regional manager for Fiat. There are also IT jobs at headquarters in Auburn Hills as well as at some of Chrysler's plants.

GM, too, is hiring for both white collar and blue-collar positions. GM, for example, besides jobs in Detroit and in its sales regions, recently announced it was locating a new 1,000-worker high-tech center in Chandler. The automaker also is locating new information technology centers in Austin, Atlanta and suburban Detroit. The centers will do work on vehicle technology, web applications, software development and other information technology systems for dealerships, suppliers, production plants and customers.

As consumers flock back to dealerships, with sales expected to be about 15.5 million this year, compared with around 10 million in 2009, it's not just Detroit that is hiring. lists 587 open positions at Toyota, including technicians. The site lists 436 jobs for Nissan and 264 for BMW. Bridgestone-Firestone has 1626 positions posted, including technicians, white-collar positions and with its building products division,

There are approximately 254 million registered vehicles in the U.S. That's a pretty good base of business for job creation.

David Kiley is Editor-in-Chief of AOL Autos.

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