TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - In a down economy, one of the bright spots is an industry found right here in northeast Mississippi:
the automobile industry.
That's the analysis of a senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, who was in Tupelo today.
Thomas Klier (pronounced "clear") spoke at the Community Development Foundation's First Friday networking breakfast.
His expertise is, in part, on changes in manufacturing technology and the evolving automobile industry.
Klier says because more vehicles on the roads are now aging, the auto industry and its suppliers are staying active during a time that some industries are struggling to stay afloat.
He says, "we're seeing growth in motor vehicle sales. We have a really good growth in August at 14.4 million units on an annualized rate. In other words, motor vehicle sales and production have come back stronger than the economy overall."
The guest speaker told the crowd the auto industry, and especially its suppliers, should be looked at as a multi-state industry and not just one that's in a few counties or section of a state.
As for Mississippi and the surrounding states, industry leaders say they're trying especially hard now to grow a qualified work force.
Experts say they'll continue to work with junior and senior colleges, and predict the number of people employed by the automobile industry will only get larger.