Toyota RAV4 3-14-19 Susan Elkington and Matt Bevin

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky President Susan Elkington, left, and former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin show off the RAV4 Hybrid model that began production in 2020 at its Georgetown, Ky. plant. Toyota has been a major recipient of economic development incentives from the state.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Toyota is looking to add 400 workers immediately at its Georgetown, Ky. plant, the Japanese automaker’s largest plant in the world, and is even offering a $500 "signing bonus" for new hires.

The company disclosed the job openings in a news release on Tuesday, saying it’s “part of a billion-dollar investment in US manufacturing.” Follow this link to apply.

The open jobs start $18.07 per hour for the plant’s day shift and $18.98 for the night shift, and production workers can eventually reach “over $29” per hour, plant manager Susan Elkington said in a pre-recorded video distributed to the media.

Toyota spokesman Rick Hesterberg said the $500 is available to all new workers who stay on the job for six months.

It's a sign of the times in the highly competitive job market. Toyota has not previously offered a signing bonus to lure workers, Hesterberg said.

Kentucky's job market hasn't been this tight since the late 1990s. The state unemployment rate was 4.4% in August -- unchanged from a year earlier.    

The Toyota plant already employs more than 8,000 and is preparing to add production of the Rav4 Hyrbid SUV in January. Its largest product is the Toyota Camry sedan.

Toyota said in March that the Rav4 was on its way to Georgetown, which has production capacity as sales of the Camry have slowed along with the rest of the sedan market.

But at the time, the company said it had no plans to add workers to any significant degree.

Now, Toyota needs to replace workers who have retired or otherwise left the company and also to staff-up for the Rav4, which starts rolling off the line in January, Hesterberg said.

He could not say how many of the 400 job openings are related to attrition versus payroll growth.  

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