The COVID-19 pandemic brought daily life – and with it, the American economy – to a screeching halt. While parts of the automotive industry were declared essential, this does not mean they can operate as before. From automotive repair shops to factories and car dealerships, every facet of the industry has had to adapt to remain powerful engines driving America forward.

The automotive industry supports a total of 9.93 million American jobs, spending $16 to $18 billion each year on research and product development. The automotive industry represents 6 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP), and 44 states have more than 20,000 auto jobs. Almost half of all automotive jobs involve automotive care, from your local mechanic shop down the street to dealership service centers. In total, 4.7 million Americans make sure your car is taken care of.

The automotive industry has an impact at the state level, like in Missouri, where the first locally-manufactured gas engines were built and there are now over 67,000 jobs in the auto care sector alone. The Missouri automotive industry generates $14.5 billion in economic activity – who would have thought keeping your car running keeps the economy running, too?

COVID-19 has caused many auto shops to see a drop in business or close completely, and business owners say they are struggling with the current federal support programs. Trace Coccimiglio, owner of Valet Auto Body in Draper, UT and Board Member of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, said, “I bet we’re down 80 percent.” While he applied for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, he wondered if it was “misdirected assistance” and highlighted that keeping the business open should be a priority. “If we weren’t around,” there would be no chance for the workers to have a job, he noted.

As employers continue to make the health and well-being of their employees and community a top priority, we need to do our part to ensure our economy can once again start moving. “The Auto Care Association is leaving no stone unturned in its continued effort to identify opportunities to help our members, American businesses and American workers to get back on their feet and get back to work,” said Bill Hanvey, the association’s president and CEO.

The CARES Act was a start to the economic assistance our country needs, but it was a drop in the bucket when it comes to fixing our deteriorating economy. Now as people stay home, reduce the number of miles put on their cars, and forgo routine maintenance due to economic uncertainty, Congress must create America’s Recovery Fund to get our economy back up and running again.