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Apr 11, 2013 8:31 PM by Andy Koen

Auto sales increase a good sign for local economy

COLORADO SPRINGS - There is some encouraging news when it comes to the local economy. New car sales are steadily recovering at a statewide level to pre-recession levels.

"It's coming back faster than the overall economy in automotive," said Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. "We've already gained over half of that loss back in just three years."

A similar trend is also underway at dealerships in El Paso County. Motor vehicle registration data gathered by the Southern Colorado Economic Forum show registrations were 24.1 percent higher in 2012 over 2011.

So, what's fueling the sales increase? Jackson says the two biggest factors are improved consumer confidence and easier access to financing, even for those with marginal credit.

"That enables them to get a much newer car, sometimes a brand new car and stretch the payments out over a longer period of time."

He says lenders are more willing to offer longer term loans loans because the cars themselves last longer. The average age of a typical car on the road today is 11.1 years.

"It means every time you get out on I-25 going to Denver or to Pueblo, every other car you meet essentially is over 11 years old."

Unemployment continues to lag in Colorado Springs (8.7 percent) and Pueblo (11.3 percent) behind the statewide rate of 7.5 percent.

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