The auto glass industry’s 700,000 technicians in 2020 were reduced to 600,000 in 2022, according to Robert C. Dauffenbach, senior associate dean for economic development at the University of Oklahoma. Dauffenbach says the 14% decline presents an opportunity for the industry to make plans to encourage today’s youth to get into auto glass.
In 2017, Dauffenbach says the average technician earned $17 per hour. The hourly pay rate for auto glass technicians has increased each year by 2% since 2000. A technician can expect to make $24 per hour in 2022. Dauffenbach says he sees the hourly rate continuing to increase in the years to come.
Some technicians probably dropped out of the industry during the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Dauffenbach says, but, in 2022, many Americans are realizing they need to return to work to pay rent and buy food.
Talk of Inflation and Recession
“[Inflation] provides an underpinning of how things run,” Dauffenbach says. Inflation remained at a rate of 4% for most of the last 50 years, except when favored by political circumstances. He points out that the price level of items now is eight times what it was in 1970. Prices double every 18 years. “We’ve got distinct supply chain problems, but we’ve also got hope,” Dauffenbach says of inflation’s impact. He sees the supply chain challenges healing when the U.S. relies less on products from China.
Price increases stimulate product development, Dauffenbach says. “We’ve got some major hurdles ahead of us still,” he says. He predicts at least another year before the economic situation improves, but the auto glass industry is beginning to see a price increase peak. A price increase peak is good news because if the increase can be slowed down, prices will settle finally.
“The U.S. economy is still really quite strong,” Dauffenbach says in response to talk of a recession. He adds that Americans have money in the bank, and, with COVID-19 mostly in the rearview mirror, Americans will make travel plans this summer and plans for other spending. Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is fueled by consumer spending. “I don’t think recession is in the cards for now,” Dauffenbach says.
He is concerned, however, that auto insurance rates will increase, which could affect consumer spending on auto glass. If consumers are spending more for insurance, they might be more likely to put off auto glass repair and replacement.
“I do for a while. We’re looking at very sharp increases in the [PPI],” Dauffenbach says of the costs of materials continuing to rise. He notes the continuation of the supply chain challenges, and now also the effects that the resurgence of COVID-19 in China, where much of the world’s manufacturing is located, will have on the supply chain.
Dauffenbach says the vaccine shots in China were not as effective as shots used in the United States. “We continue to see supply chain problems that I suspect will be cured over time, but we’ll have to experience some pain,” Dauffenbach says.
Labor statistics are available at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.