Surging sales, consistent profits, and strong demand mean that Ford might — and likely will — surpass its initial hiring projections, which called for 12,000 new hires by 2015 given a United Auto Workers contract that was signed in 2011.
“The business has grown faster than we predicted it would in 2011,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, told Bloomberg on Wednesday. The company’s hiring “is definitely ahead of schedule and there’s a high probability we’ll overshoot” the 12,000 hourly jobs it committed to creating in the 2011 contract.
Ford’s most recent hire was the addition of 2,000 new employees at the Claycomo, Missouri, facility, where it builds the F-Series trucks and Transit cargo vans. Ford is investing $1.1 billion into the plant to keep up with the unrelenting demand. Despite being only four months into 2014, Ford says that it’s 75 percent complete with its pledge to hire 12,000 more employees by next year.
At the end of last year, Ford had a headcount of 84,000 employees in North America alone, nearly 10,000 more than the 75,000 that it had on its payroll at the end of 2011. The agreement signed at the time with the UAW was a four-year contract, and therefore is up for renewal next year.
Perhaps counterintuitively, the new hires help Ford keep its employment costs lower. New hires are started at just over half of the $27 per hour that veteran workers make, Bloomberg reports. More than one in five Ford U.S. hourly workers now make the lower wage, Hinrichs said to the news service, including 26 percent of the workers in Claycomo.
“The 2,000 new jobs and hiring we’ve done here has certainly increased the entry-level percentage here, which lowers the blended costs of labor and overhead,” Hinrichs told Bloomberg by phone while on site at the Claycomo plant. Lower wages paid to new workers “has been an important part of the more competitive cost structure in North America,” he said.
The news comes shortly after it was revealed that the private sector added 220,000 jobs during the month of April, according to Automatic Data Processing, or ADP.
“The job market is gaining strength. After a tough winter employers are expanding payrolls across nearly all industries and company sizes,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said to Forbes. “The recent pickup in job growth at mid-sized companies may signal better business confidence. Job market prospects are steadily improving.”
Ford definitely felt those pinches throughout the winter, as warranty reserve costs and other factors led to a quarterly report that many felt was disappointing. As the weather warms, however, buyers are flocking back to the dealerships, indicating that there is little underlying reason — weather aside — that they wouldn’t be buying vehicles. March was a strong month for just about everyone, and April’s results will be out later this week.