February 4, 2015 8:53 AM EST

About 48,000 General Motors employees in the United States can expect up to $9,000 in profit-sharing checks after the automaker on Wednesday reported impressive earnings for 2014.

The payments to GM workers are higher than last year’s maximum of $7,500, and the highest ever since GM and the United Autoworkers negotiated to share a portion of the company’s domestic profit, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The increase in profit sharing-checks is based on an overall improvement in the automaker’s performance. GM earned $1.1 billion in the fourth-quarter of 2014, up 21% from a year earlier, with the company’s profit jumping 91% behind a strong auto market.

GM spent $2.8 billion in costs related to the record number of recalls in 2014 after the company was forced to replace faulty airbags on thousands of vehicles. “A strong fourth-quarter helped us deliver very good core operating results in 2014 despite significant challenges we and the industry faced,” CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.

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