Labor costs in the auto industry

April 27, 2011

Compensation costs for blue-collar workers in the automobile industry exceed those of many blue-collar workers in other manufacturing industries.

Average hourly compensation costs, automotive workers and nonautomotive workers, private manufacturing industries, 2009
[Chart data]

Compensation costs for auto workers were among the highest of any manufacturing industry in 2009, despite the trends of recent years in which nominal auto industry compensation costs have held steady or declined (except from 2007 to 2008), while compensation costs in other manufacturing industries have continued to climb. In real terms, private auto industry compensation costs have been falling since 2004.

Average hourly compensation costs in current and 1996 dollars, auto workers and other blue-collar workers, private manufacturing industries, 1996–2009
[Chart data]

Compensation costs can be broken into two categories: wages and benefits. In the auto industry, upward pressure on wage costs has been offset by downward pressure on benefit costs. In both real and nominal terms, benefit costs have been falling for auto manufacturers in recent years (except from 2007 to 2008), while benefit costs have been steady for other private industry manufacturers.

These data are from the Compensation Cost Trends program. To learn more, see "Auto Industry Labor Costs in Perspective" in the April 2011 issue of Compensation and Working Conditions Online. In the source article, “blue-collar workers” include the following occupations: protective service occupations; food preparation and serving related occupations; building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations; personal care and service occupations; farming, fishing, and forestry occupations; construction and extraction occupations; installation, maintenance, and repair occupations; production occupations; transportation and material moving occupations.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Labor costs in the auto industry on the Internet at (visited September 29, 2016).


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