Need a car? Bad economy helps

Anthony Holloway

Good deals exist as silver lining of poor job market

Good deals and low prices are hanging around despite the possibility of unemployment, economics instructor Henry Woudenberg Jr. said.

Woudenberg said prices for some goods like electronics and automobiles are lower, but people aren’t making the purchases because of job insecurity.

“There is an estimated 5.5 million people unemployed,” Woudenberg said.

He said he expects unemployment to keep rising because even after the economy begins to recover, companies don’t hire back right away.

Unemployment is something car companies are addressing. The Ford Advantage Plan guarantees if a person buys or leases a new Ford car and “involuntarily” loses his or her job, Ford will pay for up to 12 months of car payments. According to the Ford Web site, there are specifications, such as being involuntarily unemployed for at least 30 consecutive days to qualify for the plan.

Hyundai is offering a similar plan, which states Hyundai will pay up to three months of payments for people who lose their jobs. The plan also allows people to take the car back if three months is not enough time.

Dave, 50, and Cindy Benson, 51, Aurora residents, said the offers from automobile makers do make a difference.

Dave, who recently returned to work after being laid off, said he and Cindy would like to invest in another car but getting the money is another story.

“I’d like to try to,” Dave said. “But at the same time, to do that, we’d have to get a loan, which isn’t easy.”

Woudenberg said some indicators of a strengthening economy include an increase of hours in the average work week, stock movement and the credit markets loosening up.

He said the tight credit market is a major hurdle for people and businesses during the recession.

“The banks (have) been reluctant to make loans,” Woudenberg said. “And if you don’t make loans, businesses can’t spend and individuals can’t spend.”

But he said the banks are starting to loosen up and give more loans.

Bruce Caudill, the president of Kent Lincoln Mercury, said despite layoffs made in the past six months, he also sees an improvement in sales and the economy in general.

He said people are currently looking to buy used vehicles with a warranty, which is why he said he is “anxious for trade-ins.”

“Deals are better now than ever,” Caudill said about the prices of cars.

He said he attributes the low prices to dealerships’ need to move inventory “because they’re paying interest on them (cars) to the banks.”

Caudill said the recession negatively affected Northeast Ohio with high unemployment because of its large automobile manufacturing base. For example, he said restaurants surrounding the automotive plants suffered in consequence.

“About everything is tied to the automobile industry,” Caudill said.

But other industries are faring well, considering the state of the economy. According to the Verizon store in Kent, the economic downturn isn’t hindering its business.

Verizon sales associate Brittany See said the Verizon store near the Acme shopping area on State route 59 is seeing consistent business.

“Business is busy when school is in and it’s (business) not when it’s not,” See said.

She said she attributes the consistency to people’s need for cell phones.

“Something people are not going to let go of is their phone,” See said.

See said people are coming in for the higher-end touch screen phones as well.

For instance, the Bensons said they are not opposed to spending more money to get quality.

“I’m not going to buy the cheapest thing because it’s the cheapest thing,” Dave said.

Contact news correspondent Anthony Holloway at [email protected].