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SEMA Industry Indicators: Economic Volatility Persists, But Consumers Remain on Strong Footing


By Kyle Cheng

The current U.S. cycle of economic growth enters its historic 11th year amidst volatility.

The current U.S. cycle of economic growth enters its historic 11th year amid volatility. The next round of proposed tariffs targets the remaining $300 billion in Chinese imports that haven’t been affected yet. This is widely believed to impact products more commonly purchased by consumers. As such, uncertainty is weighing on businesses, capital and the overall economy.

Despite this, consumers are still feeling optimistic and remain on relatively strong footing. The labor market remains tight, wages are increasing and inflation remains low. Likewise, spending is at a healthy level. This should carry through the remainder of the year.

Trade uncertainty is influencing both the automotive and specialty-equipment industries. Auto-parts imports from China are down roughly 11% over the last year. However, total auto-parts imports are up—driven by increases from Mexico and other Asian trading partners.

New light-vehicle sales declined in July. Nearly 73% of these new light-vehicle sales came from pickups and SUVs—a record high. Likewise, in the coming months, gas prices are likely to decline driven by lower demand, increasing tensions and the close of the summer driving season.

To learn more, download the August “Industry Indicators Report,” now available for free at www.sema.org/research.