Made in the USA: Bright future for electric vehicle jobs
The passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act is driving a boom in green jobs announcements across the United States.
Over the next five years, more than 15 states will boast new factories or production lines to manufacture electric vehicles, batteries, components and chargers, providing tens of thousands of new jobs.
Since the passage of the Infrastructure Law, auto manufacturers’ new investment announcements across the U.S. total $88 billion.
This includes a Ford battery manufacturing facility in Marshall, Michigan and expansion of Tesla’s factory complex in Sparks, Nevada. These two facilities alone will generate as many as 5,500 new jobs, the manufacturers say.
Brett Smith, a research fellow at the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research, which studies trends in the auto industry, called the investments "remarkable."
"In the midst of the pandemic, the recession, the supply chain issues, in 2021 and 2022, the investment has been huge," he says. “We’re seeing very large numbers in the jobs announcements.”
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Policies and legislation promoted by President Biden, including the 2021 Infrastructure Law and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, both of which include made-in-America provisions and billions of dollars in funding, have been major drivers of this growth.
The Inflation Reduction Act allocated $5 billion in grants and loans for U.S. electric vehicle manufacturing. It also supports the retooling of existing car and truck factories to enable electric vehicle-related manufacturing, saving jobs at factories or production lines previously at risk of closure.
And it includes tax credits for the purchase of personal and commercial electric cars and trucks assembled in North America.
The November 2021 Infrastructure Law provided $7.5 billion for 500,000 electric vehicle chargers nationwide, plus $5 billion for clean school buses.
“There was already significant growth in the U.S. electric vehicle manufacturing sector before these game-changing pieces of legislation were enacted but their passage has really accelerated the pace,” says Environmental Defense Fund attorney Andy Su.
More jobs, cleaner air
What's good news for the economy is good news for the environment and public health, too.
Cars and trucks are responsible for about 22% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. In 2015 alone, tailpipe emissions were associated with an estimated 385,000 deaths worldwide.
Environmental Defense Fund estimates that ensuring all new passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2035 are zero-emitting vehicles would cut U.S. climate pollution by almost 350 million tons each year by 2035 – the equivalent of taking more than 68 million cars off the roads.
Families would save thousands of dollars per vehicle on fuel. And the pollution reductions would prevent as many as 5,000 premature deaths each year by 2040 and a total of as many as 98,000 premature deaths by 2050.
Announcing the new $3.5 billion Michigan facility, Ford’s Vice President for EV Industrialization Lisa Drake, said: “I think the IRA was incredibly important for us, and frankly, it did what it intended to do and it allowed the United States to capture 2,500 fantastic technical jobs and all the indirect jobs that go with it, as well as the future growth. A big win for the U.S.”
A new report from EDF and the consulting firm WSP found that more than half of the $120 billion in announced investments in EV-related factories over the last eight years and more than 94,000 new jobs announced have come since the passage of the Infrastructure Law in November 2021.
While job announcements sometimes exceed the number of jobs eventually created, some companies have already surpassed existing hiring projections. The SK Battery America’s plants in Georgia exceeded their initial hiring goals of 2,600 employees, two years ahead of schedule, and now aim to add 400 workers over the coming year.
In Michigan, Ford, General Motors and LG Energy Solution are planning new and expanded vehicle and battery factories. Ford and Honda have announced new plants in Ohio. The French manufacturer Forsee Power will also set up shop in Ohio, claiming it is, “building a ‘Buy America’ compliant presence in a very strategic market.”
Georgia is among the states seeing the biggest numbers of announcements. The Hyundai Motor Group is planning a facility that the company anticipates will create 8,100 new jobs. And Scout Motors announced plans to build a $2 billion electric truck and SUV factory outside Columbia, South Carolina that will employ 4,000 people.
Electric vehicle manufacturing is also helping to retain existing jobs.
Nissan is making a $500 million investment in electrification at its Canton, Mississippi vehicle assembly plant that will support the retraining and upskilling of nearly 2,000 jobs.
Similarly, GM's decision to build electric vehicle battery components at its existing factory in Rochester, New York will help sustain the almost 750 jobs there.
“This factory invented fuel injection and now Rochester workers will help power the future of electric cars in America,” said New York Senator Charles Schumer, who urged GM to keep the factory open.
Environmental Defense Fund attorney Peter Zalzal said: "Each new investment and job announcement represents an opportunity to set a strong standard for what high-quality, community-sustaining jobs in the clean economy can look like."