Ford has added 5,200 jobs so far this year in the U.S. image

While in Europe Ford is closing plants and cutting thousands of jobs, in the U.S. the automaker has added about 5,200 jobs so far this year.

Ford’s North American plants are operating at 114 percent of capacity, the highest in more than 30 years.

“Our manufacturing costs have gone down this year. Two things are driving that, capacity utilization and entry-level workers. No question, those two things have lowered our costs,” Jim Tetreault, Ford’s vice president of North American manufacturing, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

Ford’s deal with the United Auto Workers allows it to pay new workers about $16 an hour, almost 60 percent less than what veteran workers receive. So far this year Ford has added about 4,800 entry-level workers to its payroll, according to company spokesman Todd Nissen.

The rest of the new jobs went to workers transferring from other Ford factories or to employees who didn’t have job assignments. Right now, Ford’s jobs bank is empty, Tetreault said.

He also said Ford is running its factories at their highest level of utilization in more than 30 years. Ford has added third shifts of workers at five of its North American assembly plants. Next year, Ford will also add a shift of 1,200 workers at its Flat Rock, Michigan, factory.