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The impact of car dealerships on each state's economy

in Research
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Car sales in 2020 performed like a trumpeter heralding the ups and downs of consumer demand and purchases, supply chain woes, and imaginative sales techniques that emerged as means of survival in the business climate created by the pandemic.

CoPilot used data from the National Automobile Dealers Association to compile statistics on the impact of car dealerships on every state’s economy. New light-vehicle dealerships are dealerships selling new vehicles that weigh 1 ton or less. The total sales by all dealerships, average sales per dealership, and the number of new light-vehicle dealerships come from NADA’s 2020 mid-year report on U.S. franchised new-car dealerships, while statistics on dealership employees and the taxes paid by the dealerships are 2019 year-end statistics released in 2020.

Experts say 2020 was the worst year for car sales since 2012, when demand slumped following the Great Recession. Overall, U.S. auto sales dropped to 14.6 million from 17.1 vehicles in 2019. With the supply of new vehicles hampered by plant shutdowns and slowdowns linked to COVID-19, however, used car sales went wild. Owners were selling used cars for more money than they had paid for them new.

Nationwide in June, car dealers sold some 1.2 million used cars and trucks, a 22% jump from a year earlier and the highest monthly total since 2007. But by July, the number of used vehicles available for sale at dealerships dropped 22% as supplies dried up. Dealers were unable to attend live car auctions where they would typically load up on inventory. Sports utility vehicles and trucks accounted for more than 80% of the new sales in 2020, a dramatic shift from just seven years earlier in 2013, when cars accounted for 55% of new sales.

Demand for cars has been fueled by stimulus checks and low interest rates, and people having saved money under stay-at-home regulations. With the virus threatening, many consumers preferred owning a car over ride-hailing services and public transportation.

Read on to learn how car dealerships impact every state’s economy.

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Alabama

- Total sales by all dealerships: $5.8 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $21.5 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 271
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $57,096 ($1,112 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 57
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $285 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $237 million

Alabama car dealers were hard hit in the spring of 2020, when consumers stayed home due to COVID-19. Dealerships stayed open, however, as they were considered essential businesses, and many pivoted quickly to online sales. Business started to rebound mid-year, state dealers reported, especially in demand for new cars.

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Alaska

- Total sales by all dealerships: $789.0 million

  • Average sales per dealership: $29.2 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 27
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $56,940 ($1,111 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 68
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: not applicable
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $200 million

Alaska auto sales dropped some 75% year-over-year in spring 2020. For the full year, sales were estimated to be down around 20% from 2019, slammed by the spring lockdown and renewed COVID-19 restrictions enacted at the end of the year.

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Arizona

- Total sales by all dealerships: $10.2 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $41.4 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 246
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $61,750 ($1,200 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 90
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $1.3 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $356 million

Consumers in Arizona turned to online purchases of used cars in 2020. One online dealer in Tempe was adding almost 300 employees to its customer care team, following a low mark in sales in the spring, and sold almost 20,000 more cars in the third quarter than it had in the same quarter of 2019.

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Arkansas

- Total sales by all dealerships: $4.0 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $19.1 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 209
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $55,497 ($1,079 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 46
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $511 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $144 million

Growth in vehicle sales helped drive sales tax receipts above expectations in the seven-month reporting period in Arkansas that ended in January 2021. Sales and use tax revenue were up 7.5% from the previous year and 8.3% higher than predicted, according to state finance authorities.

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California

- Total sales by all dealerships: $48.6 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $37.7 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 1,289
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $67,769 ($1,317 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 92
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $8.3 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $2.2 million

New car and truck sales fell almost 22% in California in 2020, taking the biggest plunge since the Great Recession, when sales fell 28% in 2009. In the second quarter, amid the state’s stay-at-home orders, new registrations fell by nearly half compared with the previous year. Among 2020 sales, SUVs and larger vehicles fared best, and the market share of electric and hybrid vehicles rose as well.

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Colorado

- Total sales by all dealerships: $6.8 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $27.4 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 247
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $63,830 ($1,245 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 80
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $499 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $350 million

Used car sales took off in Colorado as the manufacture and inventory of new cars was dampened by COVID-19, dealers said. Some dealers reported cold-calling car owners asking if they were willing to sell to buyers who, with their other spending habits dampened by the pandemic, had extra cash on hand for purchasing.

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Connecticut

- Total sales by all dealerships: $4.1 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $16.6 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 249
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $64,493 ($1,247 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 56
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $643 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $252 million

New car sales dropped by slightly less than 12% in Connecticut in 2020 amid the coronavirus, compared with a year earlier. At the start of 2020, before the virus arrived, new car dealers reported a year-over-year increase of almost 5% in January and more than 15% in February.

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Delaware

- Total sales by all dealerships: $1.3 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $24.9 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 53
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $57,980 ($1,129 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 81
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $108 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $446 million

To recover from the sales blows of the state’s lockdown protocols, Delaware dealerships made use of some of the most generous buying and leasing incentives in recent years. Some offered months of deferred payments or years of 0% financing, deals last seen during the Great Recession.

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Florida

- Total sales by all dealerships: $37.6 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $42.8 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 877
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $62,114 ($1,208 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 95
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $4.8 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $966 million

Used car sales in Florida picked up mid-year, but many small dealers struggled with a lack of inventory and went out of business. Dealerships were deemed essential and could remain open, but inventory tended to be grabbed up by larger corporate dealerships.

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Georgia

- Total sales by all dealerships: $13.7 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $27.9 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 490
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $61,347 ($1,203 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 68
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $2.0 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $628 million

New car inventory is tight in Georgia—just ask the winner of a scratch-off lottery ticket whose prize was a 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray worth more than $100,000. Lottery officials were unable to find a car to give the prize winner at local dealerships, where supplies dried up after factory shutdowns due to COVID-19 in 2020.

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Hawaii

- Total sales by all dealerships: $2.0 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $29.6 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 67
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $63,817 ($1,234 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 64
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $269 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $694 million

Auto sales hit lows in 2020 not seen in nearly a decade for dealers in Hawaii. But the market is predicted to make a slight recovery in 2021, with one report predicting sales growing by 6% this year. Auto sales already were declining in the two years before COVID-19 appeared in early 2020.

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Idaho

- Total sales by all dealerships: $1.8 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $19.0 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 97
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $53,859 ($1,050 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 65
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $230 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $757 million

In Idaho, new car sales plunged by more than half in April, triggering extensive job cuts at dealerships. While dealers were optimistic about future growth, especially with incentive offers, finding enough inventory was challenging, they said.

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Illinois

- Total sales by all dealerships: $15.5 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $21.9 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 707
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $56,472 ($1,104 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 64
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $2.4 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $717 million

Illinois car sales dropped by half in April, dealing state coffers a heavy blow. Taxes on automobile sales comprise as much as 18% of all sales tax revenues in the state. With a COVID-19-linked shortage of new cars, used car sales hit record highs in parts of Illinois in the summer of 2020. Auto manufacturers in the state reopened after being closed down in the spring, but new car inventory was low, dealers said.

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Indiana

- Total sales by all dealerships: $7.2 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $17.9 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 400
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $53,976 ($1,049 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 58
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $1.1 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $295 million

Not unlike other new car markets nationwide, Indiana’s auto inventory was beset by plant shutdowns stemming from COVID-19 in 2020. While production has resumed, and demand strengthened, manufacturers have been stymied by shortage of critical components such as microprocessors.

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Iowa

- Total sales by all dealerships: $3.7 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $13.7 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 273
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $54,041 ($1,055 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 47
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $399 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $177 million

Shutdowns to protect against COVID-19 crushed auto sales so badly in Iowa that car registration totals in April 2020 reached a 15-year low. But aggressive incentives like rebates, low-interest offers, and delayed payments were effective in lifting sales back up, dealers said.

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Kansas

- Total sales by all dealerships: $2.7 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $13.1 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 209
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $53,664 ($1,046 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 49
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $372 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $129 million

In an indication of the health of the auto market, General Motors cut its vehicle production at several plants due to a shortage of microchips and other components—including its plant in Fairfax, Kansas, that makes the Cadillac XT4 and Chevrolet Malibu sedan. Automakers scaled back their orders of computer chip orders when the pandemic hit, the excess supply was grabbed by electronics manufacturers doing a more robust business, and now the recovering auto industry doesn’t have enough supply.

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Kentucky

- Total sales by all dealerships: $4.1 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $17.8 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 233
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $55,224 ($1,071 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 58
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $542 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $205 million

Among U.S. states, Kentucky was among the last to let customers back into its auto showrooms as COVID-19 lockdowns eased. Dealers were forced to be inventive with strategies like using separate cars to follow customers taking test drives due to social distancing protocols.

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Louisiana

- Total sales by all dealerships: $6.4 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $22.9 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 278
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $56,147 ($1,087 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 58
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $602 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $220 million

At least half the auto dealers in Louisiana lost at least half their sales during the spring of 2020. Foot traffic at dealers that could stay open dropped by 60%. Customers were buying cars out of necessity at a time of year when typically they would have been buying cars to mark occasions like graduations, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, dealers said.

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Maine

- Total sales by all dealerships: $1.9 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $16.8 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 111
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $54,457 ($1,061 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 51
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $227 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $844 million

Maine auto dealers have reported getting growing numbers of requests from consumers for electric and hybrid vehicles, but the state lags in overall demand compared with the rest of the county. Two percent of vehicles nationwide were electric, as of the middle of last year, but the share in Maine was just 0.5%. The governor’s Climate Council wants to see more than 200,000 electric vehicles on state roads by 2030.

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Maryland

- Total sales by all dealerships: $7.3 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $23.9 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 304
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $61,776 ($1,196 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 79
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $1.2 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $390 million

In line with national trends, used cars have been snapped up by Maryland consumers during the pandemic. One dealer in Maryland reported used-car sales were up 26% in June compared with a year earlier, but new vehicle sales were down by 16%.

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Massachusetts

- Total sales by all dealerships: $8.4 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $22.0 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 382
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $68,822 ($1,336 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 62
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $1.3 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $502 million

Massachusetts in January 2021 became the latest state to issue a mandate that all new cars sold in the state by 2035 be electric. The phasing out of internal combustion engine cars is part of a broad green plan that also calls for cutting commuters’ average driving miles by 15%. The ban will apply to new, not used, vehicles.

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Michigan

- Total sales by all dealerships: $16.6 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $27.1 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 614
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $59,865 ($1,164 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 59
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $2.4 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $565 million

The pandemic could take a particularly heavy and far-reaching toll on Michigan auto sales if businesses now accustomed to remote communications cut back permanently on employee travel, economists say. A drop in business travel would hit fleet car sales to rental companies and consumer auto sales overall in a blow to one of the state’s key industries.

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Minnesota

- Total sales by all dealerships: $6.7 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $19.9 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 335
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $55,926 ($1,084 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 62
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $1.0 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $317 million

Car dealers in Minnesota face proposed “clean car” rules being put forward by state officials to lower greenhouse gas emissions and boost sale of electric vehicles. The changes would limit vehicle emissions through better efficiency and make more zero-emission vehicles available for sale. State auto dealers, who claim sales would be badly hurt by the proposals, say consumers’ choices would be limited, vehicles would be more expensive, and the state’s cold weather cannot support battery-powered cars.

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Mississippi

- Total sales by all dealerships: $3.0 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $17.3 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 176
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $52,585 ($1,023 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 47
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $346 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $115 million

Auto sales sank in Mississippi when the pandemic caused a record number of residents to lose their jobs. But dealerships found demand for service was high, as people considered cars essential as they adjusted to COVID-19 protocols. With service demand keeping business afloat, some dealerships said they beefed up their options, such as picking up vehicles at customers’ homes, even for minor maintenance like an oil change.

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Missouri

- Total sales by all dealerships: $8.4 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $22.6 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 372
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $55,783 ($1,091 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 59
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $793 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $296 million

Car dealers in Missouri had record sales in the months after stay-at-home orders were lifted. Some credited low financing incentive deals that were on offer, and others said advances in the ease of online sales also boosted demand.

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Montana

- Total sales by all dealerships: $1.4 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $14.9 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 94
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $54,392 ($1,064 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 41
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: not applicable
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $615 million

Used cars were practically flying off the lots in Montana as buyers armed with stimulus checks and tax returns went shopping. Owners were selling used cars for their original price or even more, dealers said. One dealer in Billings said such appreciation in used cars was the first he had seen in a 37-year career.

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Nebraska

- Total sales by all dealerships: $2.6 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $16.5 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 156
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $54,106 ($1,054 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 49
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $293 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $967 million

Car buyers in Nebraska were warned by the Better Business Bureau that virtual vehicle vendor scams were soaring during the pandemic. With consumers unable or unwilling to shop in person, many fell victim to scams in which they paid for nonexistent vehicles.

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Nevada

- Total sales by all dealerships: $3.7 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $37.6 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 99
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $69,394 ($1,349 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 69
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $574 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $830 million

In Nevada, demand for used cars was high during the pandemic, but dealers struggled to find supply. Those who typically found cars at live auctions in California were stymied by COVID-19 limitations that forced the auctions online, giving them less opportunity to check out the vehicles’ quality and condition. Some local dealers attributed the demand to consumers’ reluctance to use ride-hailing services and public transportation during the public health crisis.

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New Hampshire

- Total sales by all dealerships: $2.8 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $21.1 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 132
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $66,599 ($1,286 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 53
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: not applicable
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $111 million

Some locales in New Hampshire reported a drop in municipal revenues when the Department of Motor Vehicles closed to the public during the pandemic and drivers were given temporary waivers and extensions on registrations, licenses, and plates. The lack of registration revenue meant a lack of badly needed dollars for cities and towns.

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New Jersey

- Total sales by all dealerships: $13.9 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $31.0 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 448
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $69,394 ($1,345 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 74
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $2.4 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $589 million

New car sales dropped as much as 80% in the first months of 2020 in New Jersey. Lawmakers have proposed making car sales entirely online, doing away with a requirement that paperwork be signed in person at dealerships. Supporters of the measure say sales staff and product specialists would still be needed, but that consumers want to make remote, contact-free purchases.

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New Mexico

- Total sales by all dealerships: $2.3 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $20.3 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 113
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $55,497 ($1,070 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 60
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $171 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $895 million

Car dealers in New Mexico were hit with lockdown protocols in the spring of 2020 that hammered business, and they were given a fresh set of restrictions that affected business transactions in November to fight the spread of COVID-19. Severely dampening consumer spending has been unemployment—New Mexico lost 100,000 jobs in the first month of the pandemic, and it is still down by 60,000 from pre-pandemic levels.

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New York

- Total sales by all dealerships: $25.2 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $29.7 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 848
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $64,909 ($1,254 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 62
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $2.5 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $1.1 million

Resisting public transportation and itching to get out of their apartments, traditionally car-free New Yorkers went car shopping during COVID-19. In New York City, where typically more than half of residents do not own cars, walk-ins at area dealerships were up 38% in June from the previous year. Dealers in the city reported meeting many customers who had never owned cars before and were particularly interested in safety features like cameras and sensors for blind spots.

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North Carolina

- Total sales by all dealerships: $12.6 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $22.6 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 559
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $57,291 ($1,115 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 66
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $923 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $532 million

Some dealerships in North Carolina closed their doors during the early months of the pandemic, while others saw demand for vehicles increase because customers no longer wanted to share rides or take public transportation. Inventory shortages caused by plant closings and lack of components have been a more recent problem, dealers say.

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North Dakota

- Total sales by all dealerships: $1.1 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $14.0 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 75
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $55,679 ($1,074 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 52
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $114 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $643 million

Car dealers in North Dakota were far from immune to the impact of COVID-19 on their sales. One dealership in Minot reported selling five cars in two months, compared with a normal pattern of a dozen cars a month. State officials suspended a law that required vendors to sell at least eight cars in order to keep their dealership license.

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Ohio

- Total sales by all dealerships: $16.6 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $23.1 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 718
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $55,107 ($1,075 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 62
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $2.2 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $517 million

In Northeast Ohio, new vehicle sales in 2020 wrapped up the year down more than 5% from the year previous. But sales of luxury brands—including Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, and Aston Martin—were higher within a 21-county area of northern Ohio, which includes Cleveland.

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Oklahoma

- Total sales by all dealerships: $15.8 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $62.8 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 252
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $55,328 ($1,071 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 56
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $2.1 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $180 million

Car dealerships in Oklahoma remained open as the pandemic grew in the spring, but with no vehicles on the showroom floor so that customers would not touch them or get inside. Many dealerships were offering incentives as tempting as 0% interest for 84 months and six months of deferred payments.

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Oregon

- Total sales by all dealerships: $4.3 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $19.8 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 215
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $58,721 ($1,143 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 62
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: not applicable
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $270 million

Car sales felt the blows of COVID-19 in Oregon, where 15% of jobs are linked to the auto industry. Some dealers located close to the state border benefitted sales-wise, as they could stay open while dealers in neighboring Washington had to restrict their business under state regulations to fight the virus.

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Pennsylvania

- Total sales by all dealerships: $15.9 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $18.3 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 869
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $54,964 ($1,066 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 57
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $2.4 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $615 million

Car sales ground to a halt for roughly a month at the start of the pandemic in Pennsylvania, but by July, new registrations hit about 215,000, compared with 158,000 a year earlier. Dealers said some buyers wanted cars as an alternative to ride-hailing services and public transportation, while others responded to the ease of online sales or were spending stimulus checks and money they saved by being stuck at home.

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Rhode Island

- Total sales by all dealerships: $1.2 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $23.1 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 54
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $57,629 ($1,116 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 66
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $203 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $423 million

Auto sales have a particular significance in Rhode Island, where the Port of Davisville is one of the nation’s largest auto import ports. Hundreds of thousands of automobiles arrive each year in the state’s only public port. With booming growth in the past two decades, the port typically handles nearly seven times more vehicle imports than it did in 1996.

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South Carolina

- Total sales by all dealerships: $6.4 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $25.8 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 248
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $56,433 ($1,094 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 64
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $691 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $239 million

Buyers in South Carolina made the Ford-F-150 the top-selling used vehicle in 2020, while in Charleston, used car buyers went most often for the Toyota RAV-4. Statewide, the top-selling new vehicle was the Honda CR-V.

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South Dakota

- Total sales by all dealerships: $1.1 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $13.1 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 85
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $55,887 ($1,097 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 50
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $93 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $384 million

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit in the spring of 2020, South Dakota temporarily extended vehicle registration renewal periods as well as the time allotted to register and title new vehicles. Any interest and penalties were waived. Officials said it was a measure aimed at car buyers and owners who may not have access to the DMV’s online system or kiosks.

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Tennessee

- Total sales by all dealerships: $8.8 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $26.2 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 334
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $60,775 ($1,161 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 67
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $1.3 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $335 million

Car dealers in Tennessee used heightened incentive offers to fend off a slump in demand when the pandemic struck in the spring of 2020. Dealers said low interest rates and extended repayment plants helped keep buyers interested despite COVID-19 pressures.

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Texas

- Total sales by all dealerships: $41.2 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $34.3 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 1,202
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $66,625 ($1,294 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 84
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $5.9 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $1.3 million

A lack of inventory threatened vehicles sales in 2020 as plants shut or slowed down production. Supplies of full- and mid-size pickup trucks were especially low, and Texas is one of the nation’s biggest consumers of trucks. One dealer near Houston said typically, 90% of his sales were trucks.

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Utah

- Total sales by all dealerships: $3.8 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $27.2 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 140
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $56,823 ($1,104 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 78
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $422 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $189 million

Utah lawmakers are considering a measure to raise the fees five-fold on electric and hybrid vehicles, which will make them the highest in the nation. Supporters say electric car and hybrid drivers do not pay their fair share of gasoline taxes that fund the state’s road maintenance, and they say even with the fees, electric car owners will pay less than drivers of gasoline-powered cars will pay. Critics say the move will hurt sales and efforts to reduce harmful fuel emissions.

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Vermont

- Total sales by all dealerships: $1.1 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $13.4 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 79
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $56,433 ($1,098 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 41
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $156 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $640 million

To help new car buyers, Vermont launched an online system in September allowing for temporary registrations and license plates for vehicle sales. The system allows customers to print temporary plates and registration documents for vehicles they’ve purchased.

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Virginia

- Total sales by all dealerships: $10.2 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $22.5 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 453
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $61,152 ($1,186 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 71
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $1.0 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $538 million

The shift to online car sales will have lasting effects in Virginia, dealers say. One change they say to expect is an end to traditional showroom sales jobs and a rise in product experts who are skilled at communicating with potential customers, especially remotely.

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Washington

- Total sales by all dealerships: $7.6 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $24.6 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 309
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $61,399 ($1,200 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 74
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $1.2 billion
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $239 million

Lawmakers in Washington are weighing a measure that would allow electric vehicle makers to sell directly to the public, without going through an auto dealer. Supporters say dealers add margins of as much as 10% to the cost of vehicles. In opposition, dealers argue that it would severely undermine independent sales franchises that provide jobs and service throughout the state.

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West Virginia

- Total sales by all dealerships: $2.2 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $16.4 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 131
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $49,556 ($955 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 48
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $300 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $674 million

Dealers in West Virginia said they weathered the COVID-19 storm with customer incentives and struggled to find enough used cars to meet buyer demand. One Charleston dealer said he did not expect sales to reach pre-COVID-19 levels again for at least two years.

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Wisconsin

- Total sales by all dealerships: $6.8 billion

  • Average sales per dealership: $14.6 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 468
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $49,478 ($963 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 52
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $754 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $253 million

Across Wisconsin, vehicle sales dropped by nearly half in April 2020 but have been recovering since then. Observers say smaller dealerships that sell a single brand may not survive, however, particularly if they are tied to a carmaker that does not offer the most popular models.

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Wyoming

- Total sales by all dealerships: $723.0 million

  • Average sales per dealership: $14.8 million
  • New light-vehicle dealerships: 49
  • Average annual earnings for dealership employees: $51,740 ($1,011 average weekly earnings)
  • Average employees per dealership: 45
  • Sales taxes paid by dealership: $63 million
  • State and federal income taxes paid by dealership: $206 million

Economic activity, including car sales, sank in Wyoming when COVID-19 arrived, and sales and use taxes fell 6% for the year. The state is highly dependent on extraction industries like coal excavation, mining, and oil and gas drilling for tax revenues, and critics say it needs to diversify its revenue sources to survive.

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