(Story viaEdmunds AutoObserver ) DETROIT-Detroit-based automakers will hire more than 30,000 new workers in the next four years, reversing years of declining employment in the ranks of Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and the Chrysler Group LLC, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor group for the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research. Data from CAR indicate total employment of the Detroit Three automakers will increase from today’s 171,000 to 201,000 by 2015 and that auto-industry suppliers will need to add from 100,000 to 150,000 new workers over the same period.

But the research group’s projected 2015 total employment figure for the Detroit automakers still pales in comparison to the industry’s heyday. In the late 1970s, the Detroit Three employed more than 1 million workers in the United States. The industry-wide rehiring also will pressure the automakers to address the existing two-tier wage structure with the United Auto Workers union, which is expected to be a point of increasing tension in coming years, particularly if the automakers continue to maintain their profitability trends. Currently, newly hired UAW workers start at an average of about $14 per hour, about half of what tenured union workers earn. The recently ratified labor contracts between the UAW and the Detroit automakers do provide for gradually raising the figure to about $19 per hour by the end of the contract in 2015.