Defying a wave of layoffs that has sent the U.S. job market into its worst catastrophe on record, at least one top industry is making a comeback. Auto factories are set to welcome back tens of thousands of workers after shuttering in mid-March due to fears of spreading the coronavirus.

Until now, it was mostly hair salons, restaurants, tattoo parlors and other small businesses reopening in some parts of the country. The auto industry is among the first major sectors of the economy to restart its engine.

About 133,000 U.S. workers — just over half of the industry’s workforce before the pandemic — are expected to pour back into assembly plants that will open in the coming week, according to estimates by The Associated Press. In addition, parts-making companies began cranking this week to get components flowing, adding thousands more workers.

Looming in the background is an economy decimated by the pandemic. Nearly 3 million laid-off U.S. workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, raising the total seeking aid in the past two months to about 36 million. Although some states have begun to let selected businesses reopen, workers are still reporting difficulty getting unemployment benefits. Freelance, gig and self-employed workers are struggling.

Even the auto sector won’t see a full return to normal yet, and if people don’t start buying vehicles again, workers could be sent home. Yet automakers say there’s enough pent-up demand, especially for pickup trucks, to get factories humming again.

But automakers were dealing with issues even before the pandemic shuttered factories. For one, the trade war between the U.S. and China took a toll, while concerns about climate change and auto emissions caused some consumers to back away from vehicles with higher emissions, noted Capital Economics in a Friday research note.

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