ABC Claims GM Decline Shows Industry in Big Trouble

     Introducing what ABC called the end of 20th century industrial America, anchor Elizabeth Vargas portrayed a cost-cutting move by money-losing General Motors (NYSE: GM) and bankrupt Delphi as an omen for the entire U.S. auto industry, even though Kia, Honda, and Toyota have expanded jobs in the South and Midwest.

     Good evening from the land of the car, where we begin with big trouble in the auto industry, Vargas opened the March 22 evening newscast. General Motors and its major parts supplier are making a bold move to cut their work force, she teased, leading into a story filed by correspondent Dean Reynolds.

     A week earlier, ABC even found a negative angle to 2,500 new auto jobs.

     On the March 15 World News Tonight, correspondent Steve Osunsami spun the opening of a new Kia automotive plant in western Georgia, featuring liberal economist Robert Lynch criticizing the state government for bringing the plant to the Peach State with tax breaks.

     Yets Kias plant opening in Georgia is hardly a fluke. In fact, the U.S. auto industry has been doing well, with companies such as Toyota and Kia opening new plants or expanding old ones in Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, and Texas.

     The West Point Kia plant opening was announced around the same time Toyota announced an expansion of 1,000 jobs at a Lafayette auto plant. According to a company news release, Toyota (NYSE: TM expects to produce 2 million cars and trucks and close to one-and-a-half million engines every year from North American plants by 2008.

     Other foreign companies like Honda (NYSE: HMC) are also gearing up to hire both highly-skilled engineers and designers and assembly line workers. The March 20 Automotive News reported that Honda is looking to hire automotive engineers and designers for its plants in Ohio, and the March 23 Rockmart [Ga.] Journal reported that Honda Precision Parts of Georgia is seeking to hire 200 workers. The new 250,000-square-foot facility in western Georgia will produce transmissions for minivans and SUVs produced in a Honda facility in Lincoln, Alabama.

     Whats more, workers hired at foreign-owned auto plants are well-compensated. The Christian Science Monitors Mark Trumbull reported in the March 23 paper that when bonuses are factored in, the wage after a couple of years on the job is within a few dollars an hour of what workers at Ford or GM earn. Trumbull found that a worker with two years on the job at a Hyundai plant earns $22.50-per-hour, or $46,800-per-year, a little more than 5 percent better per year than the U.S. median household income of $44,389.

     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented the medias unbalanced look at the domestic auto industry.