More than 22,000 people have applied for 877 new jobs at Hyundai's Montgomery auto plant, with the majority of applicants coming from south-central Alabama.
The final tally of applications was 22,508, according to officials at the plant. Now the pool is being whittled down through diagnostic testing, interviews and hands-on assessments.
The South Korean automaker is adding a third shift there to meet growing demand for its products.
The average annual wage at Alabama's three auto assembly plants, including Hyundai, Honda and Mercedes-Benz, tops $54,400, according to data from the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama.
By contrast, the overall annual average wage in Alabama is $34,600.
About 50 of the new jobs at the Hyundai plant already have been filled with people who were temporary workers there. The goal is to complete hiring by the end of July, with plans to start up the third shift Sept. 1.
Hyundai announced the third shift hiring plans on April 30. The company now operates two shifts at the Montgomery plant and has had those workers on overtime schedules for two years to keep pace with demand for the popular Sonata sedan and Elantra compact.
While unemployment has been falling across Alabama, jobs in the state's auto sector clearly remain in high demand.
According to a breakdown of applications, 41 percent of the Hyundai job-seekers hail from Montgomery, followed by six percent from Selma and five percent from Prattville.
Birmingham is home to two percent of the applicants, as is Millbrook, Wetumpka, Greenville and Troy. One percent hail from Hayneville.
In April, Alabama's jobless rate was 7.2 percent, down from 7.4 percent in March and 9.2 percent in April 2011.
Montgomery has seen a similar slide: The metro area's unemployment stood at 6.7 percent in April, compared to 7.4 percent in March and 8.6 percent a year earlier.
Birmingham's jobless rate was 5.9 percent in April, down from 6.5 percent in March and 8 percent in April 2011.
The move will bring Hyundai's Montgomery work force to more than 3,000 people.