Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on potential consequences of GM Detroit-Hamtramck plant closing
GM has said it plans to cut 14,000 jobs as part of a restructuring, affecting plants in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Ontario, along with 8,000 white-collar workers. The Detroit automaker, however, said it is still hiring for areas focused on electrification and autonomous vehicle development. While some experts say the specific impact in the Detroit area of these particular potential job losses could be limited in scope, the drop in business at a local service station shows how auto jobs in particular affect many other industries. That's especially true in a state like Michigan, where auto industry employment is such a major part of the labor force (11.2 percent, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor). More than 7 million private sector jobs are supported by automakers, suppliers and dealers in the United States, and the industry is responsible for $500 billion in annual compensation to the workers it supports, according to CAR, which attributed more than 570,000 jobs just in Michigan, including spin-off, to automakers in 2014. “It's estimated by various authorities that for every job there is in the automotive industry there are ripple effects that impact seven to nine jobs … so if you have an industry that is employing 1,500, you can multiply that by 7 to 9" to see what could come from a loss of the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, said Marick Masters, a professor of business at Wayne State University. Masters said that the potential direct loss of 1,500 jobs represents a fraction of overall economic activity in the state, but it is significant for a variety of reasons. "When you're talking about perhaps 10,000 people being adversely affected, that’s a significant number, and there are human stories behind each of those numbers," Masters said.