The United Auto Workers (UAW) strike has made headlines as a historic labor movement, and while it’s causing some bruises to the US economy, it’s unlikely to plunge the nation into a recession. In this article, we delve into the potential consequences of this strike and how it might affect various aspects of the economy.
The Changing Landscape of the Auto Industry
Gabriel Ehrlich, an economic forecaster at the University of Michigan, highlights that the unionized portion of the auto industry, although substantial, no longer exerts the same influence on the national economy as it once did. This means that while the strike’s impact is notable, it won’t be the sole factor determining the country’s economic future.
Factors Shaping the Impact
The severity of the strike’s consequences hinges on several factors, such as its duration, the potential layoffs at other plants, the number of workers participating, and the negotiation timeline between unions and companies. While UAW President Shawn Fain asserts that they won’t “wreck the economy” but rather target the billionaire class, the economic ramifications are still significant.
Estimating the Economic Fallout
Anderson Economic Group’s estimates indicate that if UAW workers at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis strike for just 10 days, the US economy could suffer a staggering $5 billion loss. Ehrlich’s analysis suggests that a two-week strike could result in a national income loss of $440 million, while an eight-week strike could cost the nation a whopping $9.1 billion.
Impact on Local Businesses
While striking UAW members receive $500 per week in strike pay, this amount is unlikely to sustain their usual spending habits. Consequently, businesses located near strike sites will experience a slowdown in revenue. In the event of an extended strike, employers near affected auto plants may have no choice but to lay off workers.
Suppliers Feeling the Pinch
As national car inventories remain below pre-pandemic levels, major automakers are eager to resume production once the strike concludes. To maintain production as long as possible, they are likely to delay canceling orders for essential parts from suppliers. However, when these automakers eventually do cancel orders, the impact will reverberate throughout the parts supplier network. Initially, tier-one suppliers will attempt to retain their workforce, fearing the difficulty of rehiring in the future. Nevertheless, if the strike persists, layoffs will become inevitable. This ripple effect could extend to tier-two suppliers, compounding the economic strain.
Tax Revenue Downturn
A decrease in the number of people working due to the strike translates to reduced tax revenue for the government. This has broader implications, as it means less funding available for crucial programs. At the state level, Michigan, the epicenter of many strikes, could see a decline of $10.6 million in tax revenue if the strike endures for two weeks.
Rising Car Prices
Estimates from the Anderson Economic Group suggest that if the strike extends for 10 days, around 25,000 vehicles won’t be produced. This shortage could drive up car prices, especially considering the existing scarcity in inventory. While the strike’s impact on prices is noteworthy, it still pales in comparison to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent computer chip shortages that virtually halted the entire US auto industry.
In conclusion, the UAW strike undoubtedly leaves its mark on the US economy, affecting businesses, suppliers, tax revenue, and potentially car prices. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this impact is unlikely to parallel the disruptions caused by recent events. As the strike unfolds, the nation watches with bated breath, waiting to see how negotiations and time play their part in shaping the outcome for all parties involved.