Presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in rally at UAW Local 14 in Toledo, Ohio, on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. (Lori King/The Blade via AP) (Photo: Lori King, AP)
If you’re visiting the border of Ohio and Michigan less than a month before the presidential election, you’re going to talk about auto jobs.
That’s what former Vice President Joe Biden did during his short stop at United Auto Workers Local 14 in Toledo.
The Enquirer checked into claims Biden made about Ohio’s auto industry, Goodyear tires and Lordstown’s plant.
How many auto jobs were in Ohio?
Biden: “The auto industry (that) supported 1 in 8 Ohioans was on the brink,” he said. “Barack (Obama) and I bet on you, the American worker, and it paid off.”
Facts: Biden is referring to the auto bailout of General Motors and Chrysler that started under Republican President George W. Bush and was finalized under Democratic President Barack Obama.
The controversial $80 billion bailout helped the auto manufacturers survive the economic recession. More than a decade later, it’s largely viewed as a success.
During his 2012 re-election bid, Obama’s campaign cited the figure that 1 in 8 Ohio jobs came from the auto industry.
The source of that statistic was a 2010 report by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor that found more than 848,000 Ohio jobs depended on the auto industry. That included 120,285 people employed directly by auto industry, such as manufacturers and parts suppliers.
The remaining 727,715 jobs came from indirect employment and spin-off jobs, described as “expenditure-induced employment resulting from spending by direct and intermediate employees.”
The bailout retained auto industry jobs in Ohio; the exact number is up for debate.
Did Lordstown shut down?
Biden: “Lordstown shut down on Trump’s watch.”
Facts: General Motors’ Lordstown Assembly shuttered in March 2019 while Trump was president. The closure was part of GM’s decision to focus less on cars such as the Chevrolet Cruze and more on SUVs and trucks.
At the time, the plant outside of Youngstown employed about 1,700 hourly employees. In its heyday in the early 1990s, GM employed 10,600 at that location.
That closure came after Trump promised attendees of a 2017 rally in Youngstown that he would bring manufacturing jobs back to the Mahoning Valley.
“They’re all coming back. Don’t move. Don’t sell your house,” Trump said.
The Lordstown plant sat idle for several months before startup Lordstown Motors purchased it to build the Endurance electric pickup in November 2019.
Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns wants to start hiring 600 workers in 2021 to build the first 20,000 Endurance pickups, according to the Detroit Free Press, but the company presently employs hundreds fewer workers than GM did.
What happened with Trump’s Goodyear boycott?
Biden: “He betrayed union workers at Goodyear when he called for a boycott of buying Goodyear tires because of a personal grudge.”
Facts: On Aug. 19, Trump tweeted “Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES” following a local TV news report that the Akron tire maker had told its employees not to wear “Make America Great Again,” “Blue Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter” clothing at work.
The slide featured in the Topeka, Kansas, report was used in a local training session – not part of company-wide training.
After calling for the boycott, Trump said that workers there would “be able to get another good job” given how the economy was going.
Goodyear later clarified its policy to indicate that employees can show support for law enforcement at work, but employees should refrain from wearing attire linked to political candidates and parties.
Goodyear stock fell following the president’s comment, but it has already rebounded.
How many auto jobs has Ohio lost?
Biden: “We’re in a manufacturing recession because of Donald Trump even before the COVID virus hit. We’re down 647,000 manufacturing jobs nationwide since the crisis started,” Biden said. “There are still 10,900 lost auto worker manufacturing jobs in Ohio that have not come back.”
Facts: Manufacturing employment increased by 66,000 in September nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Oct. 2 report. Despite recent gains, the BLS reported, employment in manufacturing is 647,000 lower than in February.
For the Ohio auto jobs number, the Biden campaign is combining two BLS manufacturing categories: Motor vehicles and motor vehicles parts.
BLS reports Ohio had 97,900 jobs between the two categories in February, before the pandemic. The preliminary figures for August are 10,900 less: 87,000.
Ohio averaged about 97,366 auto industry jobs during the six months before the pandemic hit – about the same as Obama’s best month in office. In April, that number dropped to 59,600.
The highest month for the industry under Obama was 97,700 Ohio jobs in November 2015. Under Trump, the figure has bounced around a bit, hitting a high of 99,900 in February 2018.
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