U.S. Car Sales Down 21% in August (And That’s Good!)

02 Sep U.S. Car Sales Down 21% in August (And That’s Good!)

I couldn’t help but comment on this one. The big headline this week is that auto sales in the U.S. are down 21% compared to August of last year. Sounds like a reason to panic, doesn’t it? Well I’m not quite convinced. If you pay close attention to the news, you’ll hear a “by the way” muttered under the breath that August of 2009 happened to have a large spike in auto sales from the government’s cash for clunkers program. Why do they utter that one little fact under their breath? Because it’s the only reason this is even a relevant news story.

Take a look at this graph of auto sales in the U.S. over the last five years.

Auto Sales down in August 2010

Auto sales have actually been declining since 2006, not just since last year. And the kicker here is August 2010 auto sales are actually pretty flat compared to the previous few months. In fact, August auto sales were actually better than every month in 2009 except July and August, when the Cash for Clunkers kicked in the higher sales. August 2010 even did better than August 2008, so when you factor out 2009 there’s still some good news here.

Even more telling: 2010 auto sales have been pretty strong and relatively stable all year long, especially compared to 2009 as a whole. You didn’t hear that in the news, did you? So before you start panicking about how bad the economy is because the nightly news is telling you so, realize that there are good signs of growth this year, at least in the auto industry. Not all is doom and gloom – just the parts they choose to share with you to make better news stories.

Matt Wegner is a personal finance, career, small business and leadership coach dedicated to teaching his clients the tools for L.I.F.E. (Living In Financial Excellence).? Start enjoying life at financialexcellence.net.

  • Don Current
    Posted at 16:23h, 02 September

    You’ve always got to watch that fine print, don’t you?!? I’ve seen it over and over again in the news. Statistics as a snapshot are worthless. You’ve got to look at the whole album to get an accurate picture.