For thousands of U.S. auto workers, downturn comes fast

Wall Street is fretting that the U.S. auto industry is heading for a downturn, but for thousands of workers at General Motors factories in the United States, the hard times are already here. Matt Streb, 36, was one of 1,200 workers laid off on Jan. 20 – inauguration day for President Donald Trump – when GM canceled the third shift at its Lordstown small-car factory here. Sales of the Chevrolet Cruze sedan, the only vehicle the plant makes, have nosedived as U.S. consumers switch to crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks. Streb is looking for another job, but employers are wary because they assume he will quit whenever GM calls him back.

Layoffs at Lordstown and other auto plants point to a broader challenge for the economy in Midwestern manufacturing states and for the Trump administration. The U.S. auto industry’s boom from 2010 through last year was a major driver for manufacturing job creation. The fading of that boom threatens prospects for U.S. industrial output and job creation that were central to President Trump’s victory in Ohio and other manufacturing states. Last week the Federal Reserve said U.S. factory output fell 0.4 percent in May, the second decline in three months, due partly to a 2-percent drop in motor vehicles and parts production. Read more

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