Georgia is No. 15 among states for jobs supported by auto parts manufacturing, according to a new report that revealed the state’s strength nationally but also that it lags Southern neighbors in the crucial industry. 

Some 16,287 Georgians work for auto parts manufacturers, which nationally support 734,000 direct jobs and account for 2.3 percent of the entire American economy, according to the report published by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association. The industry’s $355 billion economic impact is roughly equivalent to the entire economy of Colombia, which ranks around No. 30 in the world. 

The report underscores Georgia’s growing automotive industry, which has benefited from the development of the Southeast as a hub for auto manufacturing. Georgia’s role has been revved up by the presence of foreign auto makers such as Kia Motors, which has hired more than 3,000 workers at its West Point plant and has attracted suppliers adding more than 7,000 jobs around the state. 

Still, the state lags Tennessee (No. 4 with 48,284 jobs), Kentucky (No. 5, 41,097 jobs), Alabama (No. 7, 30,566 jobs) and both North and South Carolina (each with 25,000-plus) in jobs supported by auto parts manufacturing. 

Alabama has HyundaiHonda and Mercedes-Benz plants, while Tennessee has Nissan and Volkswagen plants and South Carolina boasts a major BMW factory. 

Suppliers’ sales aren’t bound by state borders, and they are increasingly exporting to other parts of the world. 

Georgia’s exports of auto parts increased to $412.5 million in 2012, a return to 2005 levels after an abrupt drop-off and then five straight years of growth. 

Alabama’s auto parts exports reached nearly $900 million in 2012, according to U.S. trade data. 

The MEMA report was conducted in partnership with research firm IHS Global Insight and can be viewed in its entirety by visiting

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...