NEW YORK (AP) -- Automotive manufacturers and their parts suppliers cut their payrolls by 18,200 jobs in September, as the companies continued to scale back production in light of the ongoing slump in new vehicle demand.
The drop accounted for about 11 percent of the total 159,000 jobs slashed from U.S. payrolls during the month, according to Labor Department figures released Friday.
Separately, the retail automotive sector also lost ground, shedding a total of 10,200 jobs during the month.
Both automakers and the suppliers have been working to cut their U.S. workforces in recent years through combinations of buyouts, early retirement offers and layoffs.
Demand for new vehicles has dropped significantly this year as a result of a weak overall economy, high gas prices and tight credit markets. September's new vehicle sales total was the lowest since February 1993.
Accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP said Friday that more than 100,000 auto-related jobs may be at risk as a result of the drop in vehicle demand.
The overall reduction in payrolls was much sharper than the 100,000 cuts economists were forecasting and marked the ninth straight month that the economy has lost jobs.
The Labor Department's figures also showed that the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 6.1 percent, matching analysts' estimates.