The electric automobile race is on - and Ford ($F) is in danger of giving back some of the lead it built up in the recruitment marketplace over General Motors ($GM). 

Year-over-year, Ford job postings are up - but they're also down nearly 30% from their Q4 2019 peak. As for GM, its job postings are up, but it's part of a years-long cyclical annual trend of the automaker posting fewer jobs online. 

Further, General Motors is in the difficult position of needing to get back on track after a lengthy workers' strike that cost it billions in 2019 - the market appears to have taken note, given analysts' negative earnings expectations. 

And US automakers had better get back on their horse. Tesla ($TSLA) shares are at an all-time high and the electric carmaker is loading up on workers, which suggests ambitious growth plans for the always-ambitious Elon Musk. Tesla is also staffing up in China once again - which could put it at a disadvantage to bigger competitors ramping up EV hiring elsewhere, should trade fears tied to the Coronavirus outbreak persist. 

Tesla's advantage over GM and Ford isn't confined to the Nasdaq, where its shares are listed. Tesla also has more job postings at this point in 2020 than both Ford and GM combined, part of its ploy to attract more workers to factories around the world as it races to scale an electric car for the masses. Tesla's advantage may not last, however - especially given Ford's recent plans to hire thousands of more Americans to support EV development in Wayne, Michigan, among other development projects. 

There are other red flags for legacy automakers - at least, for those of us who are a little long in the tooth. Ford is seeing revenue from its lending arm rise substantially, and taking up a bigger part of its profitability. The last time automakers tried to act more like banks and less like carmakers, was right around the turn of the century - which resulted in painful outcomes for pensioners and investors alike. The one negative for Tesla is that its used cars haven't been selling well - when they're selling at all

Ford's disappointing earnings has shares down more than 7% heading into the open on February 5, and later in the day, GM is expected to announce results - the market is looking for losses -$0.11.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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