Autoworkers strike has cost US economy nearly $4B, report says

The strike has cost more than $1 billion in output for Big 3 automakers alone.

October 2, 2023, 2:08 PM

An ongoing strike carried out by tens of thousands of autoworkers has cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars, denying workers their wages and cutting output at car companies, according to a study from a Michigan-based research firm that was reviewed by ABC News.

Over its first two weeks, the strike cost workers $325 million in lost wages while imposing more than $1 billion in manufacturing declines at the Big 3 U.S. automakers – General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, which owns Jeep and Chrysler, the Anderson Economic Group found.

Accounting for additional costs to suppliers, dealers and consumers, the strike caused a total of nearly $4 billion in economic losses over its first two weeks, the report said.

The work stoppage has grown steadily since its launch last month.

Nearly 13,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked out of three auto plants in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio on Sept. 15, the first day of the strike.

After the strike began, Ford laid off 600 workers who assembled cars at a plant in Michigan on the same day. Workers in the paint department at a nearby plant are out on strike, leaving the assembly workers without adequate parts since the parts require paint before they can be put together into cars, a company spokesperson told ABC News.

A week later, approximately 5,625 additional UAW members at 38 car parts suppliers walked off the job.

The union has carried out what it has called a "stand-up" strike, announcing a new set of strike targets shortly before thousands of additional workers are set to walk off the job.

PHOTO: Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 230 and their supporters walk the picket line in front of the Chrysler Corporate Parts Division in Ontario, Calif., Sept. 26, 2023.
Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 230 and their supporters walk the picket line in front of the Chrysler Corporate Parts Division in Ontario, Calif., Sept. 26, 2023, to show solidarity for the "Big Three" autoworkers currently on strike.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Suppliers were particularly hard-hit by the UAW's strategy of announcing specific plants to be struck just hours before they were shut down," Anderson Economic Group CEO Patrick Anderson said in a statement. "The shutdown of 38 parts distribution centers also crimped dealership service operations and, of course, caused more UAW workers to lose wages."

The report's findings do not include plant closures, additional strike targets, or layoffs that took effect after Sept. 29, including an additional 7,000 workers who joined the picket line on Friday, bringing the total number of striking workers to 25,000.

Still, the number of workers on strike makes up a fraction of the 143,000 union members who work at the Big 3.

General Motors and Stellantis declined to respond to ABC News' request for comment. Ford did not respond to ABC News' request for comment; nor did UAW.

Economists have warned that while the U.S. has yet to see any massive effects on its economy, a prolonged strike lasting a month or more could damage the country's GDP and increase the chances of a recession.

Economists previously told ABC News that a strike could result in financial losses, disruption to the supply chain, higher prices and other economic consequences.

ABC News' Victor Ordonez contributed reporting.

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