General Motors reported its highest annual profit ever on Thursday.
The automaker, which emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2009 after a government-led bailout, announced revenue of $105 billion in the past year, an 11 percent increase, and said its profit of $7.6 billion was 62 percent higher than last year.
In a story broadcast Wednesday night on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams, General Motors allowed cameras inside its Flint, Michigan plant which has added a third 'graveyard' shift to keep up with demand.
The addition of the third shift in Flint has added 750 jobs at the plant. Most of the jobs have gone to long laid-off auto workers. The jobs pay around $29 an hour with benefits.
Larry Zahner, manufacturing manager for General Motors North America, told NBC News' Mike Taibbi, “We’ve been very careful assuring when we put the third shift on, it’s going to stick.”
Two years ago, GM shut down the third shift at the Flint assembly plant after the automaker was forced to file for bankruptcy and ask the government for help. GM pared down pension packages, got rid of thousands of jobs, hundreds of dealerships and watched their stock price tumble.
Now the automaker that some nicknamed ‘Government Motors’ in the wake of the economic collapse appears to be turning a corner. It is now the number one automaker in the world, a title it regained in part to Toyota’s struggles after the devastating tsunami.
The U.S. government still owns 26.5 percent of the company and is waiting for the share price to rise before selling in an effort to recoup the bailout money.
Nationwide, other automakers have added third shifts as well. In Belvidere, Ill., Chrysler recently announced plans to add a third shift by the summer. Ford recently added a third shift to a plant in Chicago.
This year, GM expects to increase its revenue as global auto sales grow and it charges more for models. However, it will make less money per vehicle as the mix of sales continues to shift to cars from trucks, which have bigger sticker prices. It also expects to invest $8 billion on new products and technology, and says pension expenses will rise. The company wants to keep expenses down by freezing its underfunded U.S. pension plan for salaried workers.
GM said 47,500 blue-collar workers in the U.S. will get $7,000 profit-sharing checks in March. The checks are based on North American performance and are a record for the company.
Rock Center, msnbc.com and wire reports contributed to this story.