U.S. Auto Boom Seems to Be History, Just as Trump Counted on Jobs

For seven years, the steadily expanding auto industry has helped drive the American economy forward, racking up billions in profit and paying workers hefty bonuses, all while consumers flocked to dealerships and drove sales to record heights.

It is a boom that President Trump has been counting on to add more jobs. But the industry’s ability to do so is now in question.

On Tuesday, automakers reported the fourth straight monthly retreat in sales of new cars and light trucks, the longest stretch of declines since 2009, when the industry was embroiled in crisis and bankruptcies. The slump underscores the view of many that auto sales have peaked and are set to trend downward.

“The market is tapped out,” said Adam Silverleib, vice president of Silko Honda, a dealership in Raynham, Mass. “It’s no longer expanding at the rate the manufacturers thought it would.”

He added that the more optimistic consumer sentiment recorded since Mr. Trump’s election “hasn’t translated into what’s happening in dealerships where we’re trying to sell cars.”

Moreover, the top six automakers in the American market all reported declines from their April sales a year ago, and in every case the falloff exceeded analysts’ forecasts. Wall Street took notice: Shares of Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were down more than 4 percent, and General Motors shares fell almost 3 percent.

In April, automakers sold 1.43 million cars and trucks, down from 1.5 million a year ago. But even before those totals were reported, automakers had started preparing to trim the number of vehicles they are making, which almost always means jobs are eliminated.

Source: NY Times