How Are Auto Sales Doing These Days?

I’m stuck in the infusion center for the day, so blogging will probably be a little slow today. This has nothing to do with having an IV drip hanging off my arm, and everything to do with being forced to use my tablet’s on-screen keyboard instead of the awesome mechanical switch keyboard connected to my desktop machine.

(Just as I wrote those words, the pharmacy finally delivered the IV bags containing the meds. So I should get out of here around 1 pm, just in time for an East Coast late-day document dump.)

Anyway, I decided to kill some time by checking in on the auto industry to see how it’s doing. First up, here are domestic auto sales:

Down, down, down! Nobody want ordinary cars anymore, not if they’re produced in America, anyway. Now here’s a chart that shows everything: both car and light truck sales (including SUVs), domestic and imported:

Sales reached a high of 18 million in 2016, but have drifted down to 17 million since then. The beginning of 2018 started out weakly, with sales of about 16.5 million vehicles. Part of this might be due to financing. Interest rates are drifting up:

And the total amount being financed is growing:

A few years ago, people were financing $26,000 at 4%. Today it’s more like $30,000 at 5%. Roughly speaking, that’s a difference of $480 per month vs. $570 per month. That’s more than $1,000 per year. Given the sluggish wage growth of the past few years, this makes it hardly surprising that auto and truck sales are sluggish too. It hardly matters if “the economy” is doing well when your personal paycheck isn’t going up but the price of a car is. MAGA.

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THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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