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James R. Healey, USA TODAY

Spurred by a booming market for fullsize pickups, Ford Motor says it will add a third crew of 900 workers at the suburban Kansas City factory that builds F-150 pickups.

"Fullsize truck sales are growing three times as fast as the industry," says Joe Hinrichs, Ford Motor executive vice president and president of The Americas. "There's strong (economic) growth and housing starts are up."

Big pickup sales by all automakers last month were up 27%. Overall new car and truck sales were up 8.5%. F-series sales were up 24.4%.

Ford also confirmed it will begin production late this year of its Transit fullsize van at the Kansas City assembly plant, located at Claycomo, Mo. That will add more than 1,000 jobs there.

Transit will replace the big so-called E-van, also known as the Econoline.

The third crew begins work the third quarter. Of the 2,000-plus new workers at Claycomo, half are being recalled from earlier layoffs and half are new hires, Hinrichs says.

"That exhausts all the laid-off employees, so growth will mean new jobs," he says.

When the third crew begins work, the work-week hours drop to 40 from 50 now, and the new crew will cover weekend shifts, Hinrichs says.

Ford says it promised the United Auto Workers union in the 2011 contract that it would create 12,000 hourly jobs in the U.S. by 2015. Hirirchs says the Kansas City announcement means Ford has hit 9,000 of those jobs.

During the downturn that sent General Motors and Chrysler into Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, and forced Ford to mortgage the entire company to avoid the same fate, Ford had to shut 16 plants, Hinrichs says. "Now we're leveraging most (remaining plants) with three shifts, or three crews, to really swat those facilities, get maximum production."

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