Dealership jobs hit 8-year low by Donna Harris at Automotive News - Employment at new-vehicle dealerships sank this year to the lowest level since 2000, the U.S. Labor Department reports. In February, the most recent month for which data are available, franchised dealerships employed 1,096,100 U.S. workers — virtually the same as in February 2000. Dealership employment peaked at 1,151,000 in September 2005, the department says.
Paul Taylor, chief economist of the National Automobile Dealers Association, said shrinking numbers of dealerships, lower new-vehicle sales and improved dealership technology are among the causes. Dealerships have less need for salespeople as sales drop and reliance on the Internet and information technology grows, Taylor said. At the same time, he said, the Detroit 3 are contracting and consolidating their retail networks. Since 2003, according to an Automotive News census, the number of U.S. dealerships has fallen by more than 800, to about 21,522.
Since 2003, overall dealerships employment in the U.S. has dropped.
Sales 229,100 254,800
Service technicians 257,200 264,200
Supervisors, office employees, other 284,100 282,100
Source: NADA, U.S. Department of Labor
Two of the nation's largest dealership groups, AutoNation Inc. and Asbury Automotive Group, say that in some markets, they are not replacing salespeople who leave. Taylor said the number of dealership technicians also has declined but would increase if dealers could fill vacancies. "There is opportunity for expansion in service and parts," he told Automotive News.
Dealerships have increased office and general-labor employment because of growing customer service demands, Taylor said. Many dealerships now handle vehicle tags and titles on site. Showrooms are larger and more ornate, requiring greater upkeep. And dealerships provide more amenities to customers. Said Taylor: "Somebody has to make sure that the coffee is fresh."
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