ROCKFORD, ILL. (AP) — Fiat Chrysler's decision to cut almost 1,400 jobs from a northern Illinois plant could trigger the loss of nearly 2,300 additional jobs across the region, according to a university study.
Researchers from Northern Illinois University found the total loss of wages stemming from the automaker's layoffs at the Belvidere Assembly Plant could reach nearly $215 million, The Rockford Register Star reported. The study was conducted by Brian Harger, a research associate at the school's Center for Governmental Studies.
Belvidere Mayor Mike Chamberlain said he believes the workers who are laid off will be able to find other jobs.
"We can absorb a large of number of these affected workers due to the existing demand for skilled workers in the region," Chamberlain said.
The suppliers and component manufacturers that support the plant will likely feel the effects of the layoffs, the study said. The increase in unemployment could cause the regional economy to lose about $467 million in spending annually through lower spending on food, rent, transportation and health care, according to the report.
Chamberlain remains positive that the region will recover from the losses.
"The auto industry will react how it needs to react to stay in business," the mayor said. "Our plant is one of the top automotive plants in the world and we have a very skilled workforce. The glass is half full — more than half full."
Fiat Chrysler said the cuts to the Belvidere plant are unrelated to a $4.5 billion investment in the Detroit area that could add 6,500 workers. Company spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said they are "two separate, distinct actions."
Tinson said the northern Illinois plant is the global manufacturing hub for Jeep Cherokees and "it's feeling the softening demand of Cherokee in the global marketplace."