WIIT: Japanese-brand Automakers Create American Jobs & Boost Competitiveness of the U.S. Auto Industry

By Manny Manriquez
February/March

The automotive sector in the United States is a highly advanced industry, with manufacturing and R&D functions often requiring highly-skilled employees with special training in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) member companies bring a forward-looking ethos to their work in the U.S., and directly provide the education and workforce training to meet this critical need. The story of Japanese-brand automakers in America is one of commitment to their workforce, as well as the local communities in which they invest. It is also a story of remarkable achievement in the development of advanced technology as well as the deployment of innovative design and vehicles of superior quality. This is why American consumers love Japanese-brand vehicles, and why JAMA member companies have introduced a whole new level of competitiveness to the American auto industry.

After the first wave of JAMA member company investment in the U.S. in the mid-1980s, Japanese-brand automakers provided fewer than 10,000 direct U.S. jobs (according to archival JAMA data). Now, our member companies provide more than eight times as many, for a total of nearly 88,000 direct U.S. jobs. These are high-quality jobs that impart cutting edge skills to a broad and diverse workforce at 24 manufacturing plants, and 36 R&D facilities spread across 16 U.S. states. However impressive these figures are, there is always more to tell about the impact of Japanese-brand automakers in America. For each manufacturing and R&D job our members provide, many others are created in virtually every state in the nation. From steelworkers to retail store employees, logistics providers to vehicle dealership associates, so many more Americans are gainfully employed thanks to the vast American automotive supply chain and consumer spending by direct and dealer network employees.

Last year, Rutgers University professor Thomas Prusa calculated that overall, including direct, intermediate, and spin-off jobs, JAMA Member companies support more than 1.5 million jobs in the United States. Moreover, the number of American jobs that JAMA member companies support has increased significantly since Professor Prusa conducted his first intermediate/spin-off jobs study. This is why we know that from 2011 to 2015 (the most recent year for which we have this data), the number of jobs supported by Japanese automakers has increased by 17.7%. By comparison, the total number of all (non-farm) U.S. jobs has increased by 7.5% during the same time period.

Vehicle manufacturing has also increased significantly over the years. Comparing the number of cars and trucks JAMA members produced in the U.S. in the mid-1980s to current production, vehicle manufacturing has increased more than tenfold, from 300,000 (1985) to nearly 3.9 million units (2015). This is proof positive of Japanese-brand automakers’ strong and growing commitment to manufacturing in America. It is also a clear indication of the excellent trade relationship between the U.S. and Japan—with Japan achieving higher cumulative levels of direct investment in the U.S. than any other country, except the United Kingdom. This is no accident of circumstance; it is the product of a commitment to the idea that Japanese-brand automakers invest where significant demand exists.

At the same time, JAMA members’ commitment to America doesn’t end with designing, developing, building, and selling cars and trucks in the U.S.—they also have a long track record of supporting local communities through numerous initiatives designed to organize employee volunteering, raise funds for charities and educational institutions, protect the environment, and educate families about transportation safety and other issues. Add to this our members’ growing commitment to environmental stewardship through various targeted initiatives and reduced- waste/zero-landfill manufacturing practices, and the picture becomes more complete.

There is growing awareness of JAMA members’ forward-looking community, workforce, and environmental initiatives throughout the country, but it is especially clear that folks on the ground who benefit from and engage in our members’ corporate social responsibility  activities know quite well how impactful these initiatives are, and will continue to be. Likewise, it is increasingly understood that JAMA member companies are leaders in developing and deploying environmentally-friendly vehicle technology—and much of the R&D behind this is conducted right here in the United States. Japanese-brand automakers’ focus on producing alternative-powered vehicles is especially notable, as one key fact indicates: more than 77% of all such vehicles on U.S. roads today are made by JAMA member companies.

The bottom line is that America is a worldwide leader in advanced automotive production, and the greatest success story of the U.S.-Japan economic partnership is the deep investment—over $45 billion cumulatively as of 2015—by Japanese-brand automakers in the American economy. The U.S. auto industry can and should continue to be a global leader in innovative automotive development. This will require forward-looking trade and regulatory cooperation between the U.S. and other major auto producing nations. With a full realization of how important the openness and competitiveness of the American auto industry is to achieving the best possible results, we can effectively pursue a connected, fuel efficient, and autonomous automotive future. With Japanese-brand automakers leading the way, this means sustaining high-quality American jobs and global leadership in advanced manufacturing.

Via the WIIT Communique 

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