Employment picture especially dim for new-car dealerships

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News
I was just looking at some numbers from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the forecast for employment at new-car dealerships is worse than for other industries.

The bureau says that jobs at new-car dealers are projected to decline 6 percent from 2008 through 2018, compared with 11 percent growth for all industries combined.

The reasons are no surprise. It primarily has to do with domestic automakers restructuring their operations and shrinking their dealer networks. The report also says there will be fewer jobs because cars are more durable and people will keep their vehicles longer.

And consumers' increasing use of the Internet to shop for vehicles also is expected to help streamline dealership operations. People are becoming more knowledgeable and require less of the salesperson's time, making the sales force more productive.

The report, however, misses at least one vital point: It fails to mention growing pressure on profit margins that make it necessary for dealers to run a leaner operation. This has forced dealers to combine job functions, cut hours and reduce employee benefits.

And because of those cuts, a good bit of that coming decline won't be due to layoffs but rather employees jumping ship.