The global auto industry is at a crossroads. New technologies, new market entrants, and an industry committed to decarbonization means that change is accelerating. The transformation of the global auto industry presents both opportunities and threats for America’s manufacturing workers and communities. Projections about future adoption of EVs depend on a range of factors including but not limited to cost, development of charging infrastructure, model availability, and customer adoption. Public policies regarding energy, climate, trade, labor, and manufacturing will also play a significant role. There is little doubt, however, that the auto industry of the future will look quite different than it does today. This means an opportunity to create a high-road, high-value, far more equitable strategy that avoids past mistakes and redresses past harms.
Previous short-sighted private investment decisions and public policy choices led to an overreliance on outsourcing and offshoring, a proliferation of imported vehicles and critical components, a decline in the living and working standards of U.S. auto and manufacturing workers, and lost access to family-supporting careers for the most impacted communities To provide perspective for affected workers, policy makers, and community leaders, The Economic Policy Institute is undertaking a detailed study of the jobs impact associated with the shift from conventional to electric vehicles, forthcoming in the spring of 2021.
This backgrounder, from the BlueGreen Alliance, United Steelworkers, UAW, and the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, reviews the factors likely to drive U.S. job gains and job losses related to electrification of the U.S. and global vehicle fleet. We also examine the key role the auto sector plays in the U.S. economy and preview policy options that can make electrification a winning strategy for U.S. workers, industries, and the communities that need it most. Our focus is on sustaining, creating, and improving access to good-paying, secure jobs with safe working conditions.