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Auto Sales Figures Can't Outshine Construction Data
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Auto Sales Figures Can't Outshine Construction Data

Economy

Auto Sales Figures Can't Outshine Construction Data

Auto Sales Figures Can't Outshine Construction Data
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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/134188006/134187992" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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GM, Toyota and Nissan all saw sales booms last month. GM sales were up nearly 50 percent. Ford and Chrysler sales were also up, but not by as much. Automakers helped manufacturing remain strong. But can Detroit help lead a comeback to other sectors of the economy like housing?

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

High energy prices haven't dented the recovery in auto sales - yet. Last month, U.S. auto sales jumped more than 20 percent compared to February of last year.

Here's NPR's Sonari Glinton with the details.

SONARI GLINTON: Sales for GM and Toyota each went up more than 40 percent. All the other car companies saw double digit growth.

Mr. JESSE TOPRAK (Analyst, TrueCar.com): U.S. consumers love to spend.

GLINTON: TrueCar.com's Jesse Toprak says these days it doesn't take much to get consumers in the showrooms.

Mr. TOPRAK: The fact that we haven't spent much in the last two years is a complete anomaly, and it doesn't take us much to convince to get into that shiny new car and get the new car smell.

GLINTON: Toprak says the last few years of relative austerity will translate into higher car sales in the near future. But will the desire for the new car smell ripple through the economy?

Dean Baker with the Economic Policy Institute says good car numbers can't outshine one very dark spot - construction.

Mr. DEAN BAKER (Economic Policy Institute): And a factor making it worse is the overall demographics and all the baby boomers, most of them are in their 50s, some already in their 60s. They're moving into smaller homes. Our population growth is much slower. It's going to take us a long, long time to whittle down this excess supply of housing.

GLINTON: So this is a story that's going to be with us for...

Mr. BAKER: For quite some time. That's my expectation.

Sonari Glinton, NPR News.

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