Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
General Motors announced it plans to invest $2 billion in 17 of its U.S. auto plants. That means the company will hire back 1,375 workers it had previously laid off, and possibly hire more employees. Ford and Chrysler are also building back up their workforce. Ford plans to hire another 7,000 employees over the next two years. Chrysler plans to hire 1,000 more, and already hired 4,300 last year.
Japanese automaker Toyota is getting off to a tougher start this year than its American counterparts. Its fourth quarter net income fell by more than 75 percent, partly due to the tsunami and earthquake that shook Japan two months ago, and it is expected to post a loss for its first quarter. Toyota is the world’s biggest automaker, but production losses due to the earthquake could cost it that spot.