GM says its future is autonomous vehicles in Lake Orion. So where are the jobs?

3 months ago by James Mattone in Facts, Trends

Today, General Motors ($NYSE:GM) announced it would cut more 50 jobs at its Brownstown, Michigan plant. This comes after the company indicated in February that the layoffs were coming via Michigan state filings.

This continues a distressing trend for the U.S. automaker. Since September 14, the number of job openings at the company on its official jobs website has decreased by 91%.

Hiring in Brownstown had already stalled in May 2017, according to positions listed on the company's careers website (and that we track in our database). The last position GM offered on its careers page that specifically mentioned Brownstown was a Technical Operations Specialist back in May of 2017.

Brownstown is near Detroit where GM hiring has also slowed to a crawl.

Three weeks ago, we reported that the number of job openings at factories in Hamtramck and Lordstown also decline months before layoffs were announced.

Given these newly discovered declines in hiring activity, the question becomes which factory might be next should GM continue to follow this pattern of laying off staff following hiring freezes.

A recent report from the Detroit Free Press indicated that the Lake Orion plant outside Detroit, which is currently working on GM's self-driving Cruise test-vehicle along with the Chevrolet Sonic and Bolt cars, is operating at 34% capacity and only working one shift. General Motors CEO Mary Barra once targeted an 80% production capacity average for all factories in North America.

According to trends we've tracked via the General Motors' careers website for the past three years, there have been zero Lake Orion jobs posted in 2018. In fact, the cutoff for job openings was around the same time as there were zero Brownstown factory listings.

Assumptions should not be made on the future of this factory; like the Brownstown factory, it is also close to Detroit and is the site of GM's purported future for a self-driving vehicle. But with zero job openings in recent months and an alarming operating capacity percentage, it is certainly worth watching, especially as we've seen this trend before at several factories that are now closing its doors.

James Mattone

James is the Associate Editor at Thinknum Media, and he has an interest in video games, music, and tech news. You can find him on Twitter @TheJamesMattone.

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