Summertime is forced vacation time in the auto industry, as assembly plants across the country stop production to retool for 2013 model year vehicles. The latest jobless claims story in Bloomberg says the most recent figures reflect the annual switchover, though this year’s figures are harder to figure out than years past:
Determining whether the labor market is improving or deteriorating has been more difficult in recent weeks because a reduction in the number of auto-plant layoffs typical at this point of the year has thrown the Labor Department’s seasonal adjustment process out of line. It may take weeks to judge the direction the labor market is taking.
Missouri’s two assembly plants had a lesser impact on the figures. The Ford plant in Claycomo is reportedly one of 13 North American plants the company will halt for one week instead of two to keep up with increases in product demand. On the other hand, the plant’s other assembly line, which previously built the Ford Escape, has been shut down since April. The line is scheduled to reopen in early 2013 to build the Ford Transit commercial van, but in the meantime its 1,222 workers remain unemployed—the largest layoff in Missouri this year, according to state filings. Meanwhile, GM’s Wentzville assembly plant reports no such slowdown for its line producing full-size vans.