Speaking to the American people from a Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio, President Obama commended the work of America’s dedicated autoworkers, who have helped reinvigorate the domestic auto industry. Each of The Big Three automakers is now turning a profit, and the domestic auto industry continues to add shifts and create new jobs across the country. When President Obama decided to lend a hand to the American automotive industry shortly after taking office, it was with the understanding that these great manufacturers would have to restructure, modernize and position themselves to thrive in a competitive global marketplace. Now, just a few years after the American auto industry teetered on the brink of collapse, America’s great manufacturers of yesterday have emerged as some of the great manufacturers of today.
Most importantly, all three American automakers are now adding shifts and creating jobs at the strongest rate since the 1990s. Chrysler has added a second shift at the Jefferson North plant in Detroit that I visited last year. GM is adding a third shift at its Hamtramck plant for the first time ever. And GM plans to hire back all of the workers they had to lay off during the recession.
That’s remarkable when you think about where we were just a couple of years ago. When I took office, we were facing the worst recession since the Great Depression – a recession that hit our auto industry particularly hard. In the year before I was President, this industry lost more than 400,000 jobs, and two great American companies, Chrysler and GM, stood on the brink of collapse.
Now, we had a few options. We could have done what a lot of folks in Washington thought we should do – nothing. But that would have made a bad recession worse and put a million people out of work. I refused to let that happen. So, I said, if GM and Chrysler were willing to take the difficult steps of restructuring and making themselves more competitive, the American people would stand by them – and we did.