We’re getting auto sales numbers from August for the big-three U.S. car manufacturers. They’re all up — Chrysler, Ford, GM. All told, analysts are predicting auto sales have risen about 20 percent from a year ago.
With interest rates low and gas prices high, consumers are ready to buy newer, more efficient wheels, says auto analyst George Magliano at IHS Global Insight.
“Cars and trucks—the age of the vehicle fleet is eleven years—it’s the highest it’s ever been," Magliano added, "and they’re not only wearing out at this point, they are becoming much more expensive to keep on the road.”
The steady increase in auto sales is also fueling a boom in auto employment—everything from dealerships, to auto suppliers and assembly plants. George Welitschinsky is president of UAW Local 1268 near Rockford, Illinois. The Chrysler plant there went dark back in 2009. Now, it’s cranking out Jeeps, and the new Dodge Dart.
“We’re running six days a week, 10 hour shifts of 20 hours a day," Welitschinsky said. "This is the busiest it’s ever been.”
Welitschinsky says the number of workers punching in at the plant has doubled to around 4,500—just in the past six months.