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Florida Car Dealers Watching Washington

December 5th, 2008 by flanews

The nations unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent today. Unemployment could skyrocket if the countrys three biggest automakers fold. Congress is still debating a bailout package and as Whitney Ray tells us, more than 76,000 Floridians who work at car dealerships are keeping their fingers crossed.

Hear it Here: Florida Car Dealers Watching Washington

Many Floridians depend on car sales to feed their families. There are about a thousand new-car dealerships in Florida, and they employ 76,000 people. Declining sales forced this Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep Dealership in Gadsden County to cut staff.

I usually employ about 30 people, we had to cut that by probably 15, 20 percent minimum, were probably expecting more cuts just because weve got to survive the down fall here, said the dealerships owner operator Wayne Chandler.

The state budget also suffers when car dealers struggle. Car sales generate about 20 percent of total retail sales in Florida. The drop in sales has helped spur Floridas two billion dollar budget shortfall, but economics professor Randy Holcombe says the state could survive.

Car dealerships are important to a degree but the big three automakers from Detroit could sell the same amount of cars with fewer dealerships, said Holcombe.

But fewer dealerships mean fewer jobs at a time when the states unemployment is at a 15 year high.

Car dealers arent just cutting positions; theyre also lowering prices. The dealership we visited in Gadsden County lowered prices on some of its newest cars by 50 percent.

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