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Ford hires 2,000 in Kansas City, pickup truck demand booms

An employee works on the new 2009 Ford F-150 on the assembly line at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri October 2, 2008
An employee works on the new 2009 Ford F-150 on the assembly line at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri October 2, 2008

By Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co is adding more than 2,000 jobs at its pickup truck factory in Kansas City as growth in the U.S. housing and oil sectors trigger a boom in truck sales.

The second-largest U.S. automaker said on Thursday that it will add 900 jobs and a third shift at its Kansas City Assembly Plant to build the F-150 pickup truck, the top-selling U.S. vehicle for well over three decades.

Another 1,100 jobs will be added starting in the fourth quarter to prepare for the 2014 introduction of the Ford Transit full-size van. The moves will boost Ford's workforce at the factory by just over 80 percent.

The announcement comes after several months of surging sales in the lucrative pickup truck market. Truck sales grew three times the rate of the overall auto industry, Ford executives said Wednesday while discussing April U.S. auto sales.

"There's a lot more room for the housing market to move because it bottomed out so low in the U.S.," said Joe Hinrichs, who leads Ford's operations in North and South America.

He added in an interview that the average age of the trucks on the road is at a record high, which should push some tradesman to buy new trucks as business picks up.

Kansas City is the latest Ford factory in the United States to run a third shift. Hiring more entry-level workers as well as increasing factory capacity utilization helped Ford's profits margins in North America.

About 1,000 of the workers will be hired at the entry-level wage. Entry-level workers start at $15.78 an hour or nearly half the pay of traditional unskilled blue-collar Ford workers.

Under its four-year labor pact with the United Auto Workers union in 2011, Ford promised to create or preserve 12,000 hourly jobs in the United States by 2015.

Ford said it was now three-quarters of the way through with this commitment.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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