Tennessee's Automotive Industry

By Hanson, Ryan B. | Business Perspectives, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Tennessee's Automotive Industry


Hanson, Ryan B., Business Perspectives


In recent months, there has been significant media attention on the auto bailout being proposed by Congress. Although at first glance this bill seems only to be of importance to Detroit and the traditional manufacturing regions of the U.S, the auto industry plays a significant part in Tennessee's economy. In 2008, 160,000 Tennesseans were employed by the auto industry providing $6.5billion in payroll. (1) Of these Tennesseans, approximately 10,000 are employed by the Nissan and Saturn/GM assembly plants. (2,3) The proposed Volkswagen assembly planet set to open in Chattanooga will provide an additional 2,000 jobs. (4)

Approximately 53,000 jobs in Tennessee are related to auto parts manufacturing. (5) In 2007, the average annual income of these jobs statewide was $37,000. (6) These manufacturers supply parts to local assembly plants and those beyond Tennessee's borders. The following series of maps illustrate the locations and employment patterns associated with Tennessee's automotive parts manufacturers.

Map 1 shows the location of Tennessee's auto parts manufactures and the two auto assembly plants. The map also shows the boundaries of the Tennessee Local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIA), a subdivision of the state used by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development that clusters together counties with similar labor markets and employment characteristics. These areas are used in providing workforce and career services.

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Map 2 illustrates the total employment at auto parts manufactures by county. Distinct regions of high employment are visible in West, Middle, and East Tennessee. In West Tennessee, there is high employment in Shelby and Obion Counties, while there is a concentration of high employment around Davidson County and the Interstate 24 and 65 corridors in Middle Tennessee. In East Tennessee, Employment is centered around Knox County and Interstates 75 and 81.

Map 3 is a three dimensional representation of the number of auto parts manufactures in each of the Tennessee LWIAs. The highest numbers are found in Northern Middle Tennessee in LWIAs 8 and 9. …

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