Electric Vehicle Manufacturing could Shrink the Midwestern Job Market

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Tesla Model 3 at Hertz airport location
Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles at Hertz airport location. Photo by E.R. Davidson

The battle to build electric vehicles in the U.S. is fiercer as more investors pour money into the industry. Workers at the former heart of the auto industry fear being left behind.

“When we look carefully at what goes on on the factory floor, it won’t be less workers,” Keith Cooley, former head of Michigan’s Labor Department, told CNBC. “There will be different people building the cars.“

According to research, modern factory jobs will require more education and could be less available than they were in the past. They estimate that electric vehicles could require 30% less manufacturing labor when compared with conventional cars. “The lines that run to drive oil or gas around an internal combustion engine aren’t going to be there,” said Cooley.

This change could slam the parts suppliers in the auto industry, many of whom are concentrated near Midwestern cities such as Kokomo, Indiana; Lima, Ohio; and Detroit, Michigan.

“Car companies in some of these places actually make up a decent proportion of the tax revenue, and they employ many people within the surrounding community,” Sanya Carley, an Indiana University professor and contributor to the Industrial Heartland study, told CNBC. “So the fate of these companies is very intimately tied to the fate of the communities.“