So How Does The Other Half Live?

Toyota, BMW, Ford, and several other auto makers have committed to spend a combined $15.8 billion to build new assembly plants or expand existing factories in Mexico. That is on top of the more than a dozen plants already in operation and billions more being spent by auto-parts suppliers to keep pace.

The competition for employees—both finding and retaining them—is nudging up labor costs. Retention and retraining programs are becoming the norm as are bonuses for employees who agree to stay in place, especially those with valued skills. Some factories are luring recruits with perks such as a new cowboy boots.

The going wage ranges from under $1 an hour at some parts factories to nearly $3 an hour at the large assembly facilities. That is well above Mexico’s minimum wage $4 a day.

Often, Mexicans can earn more money in the informal sector that employs half of the country’s workforce, such as selling newspapers at traffic intersections or food on the street. ,