DETROIT (AP) — A new contract between Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers union will raise the automaker's labor costs by less than 1 percent a year, reaching a company goal of holding the costs steady, executives said Thursday.

The four-year deal will raise costs by $280 million this year and around $80 million per year after that, but the increases will be offset by increased factory efficiency, other wage and benefit changes, and by hiring more workers at lower wages, the executives told reporters and industry analysts.

Ford's 41,000 union workers approved the contract Wednesday. They won't get annual pay raises but will get $6,000 signing bonuses and about $3,750 in profit sharing this year.

The deal also sets Ford up for a credit rating increase to investment grade status, and it opens the door to a possible dividend on the company's common shares, although Ford isn't ready to announce anything, Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said. Investment grade status would lower the company's borrowing costs.

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