As U.S. auto sales skyrocket, Europe hits all-time low

It's a tale of two auto markets as the U.S. thrives and Europe sputters.

It's a tale of two auto industries in two of the world's largest auto markets.

In the United States, August auto sales reached pre-recession levels with most major U.S. automakers seeing double-digit gains from last year. At this pace the U.S. auto market should see sales growth for the fifth-straight year -- only the second time that has happened since World War II. According to one analyst, "The automotive market is the one bright star in the otherwise sort of mixed picture economy."

In stark contrast, Europe announced today that its troubled auto market has reached a new low. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, demand for new cars in the European Union decreased by five percent in August. The only major market to see growth was the U.K., which saw auto sales increase by more than 10 percent. That brings total auto sales in the E.U. to 7.8 million the lowest level at this time since the numbers were first recorded, in 1990.

The most obvious reason for the contrast can be found in job numbers. In the U.S., unemployment has been steadily declining. In Europe, it's been the opposite. The euro zone has reached record unemployment numbers this year. A struggling economy combined with cities that offer good transportation options and a population that's declining means the Europe auto market likely won't see much improvement, as the New York Times points out. But, according to another analyst, at least Europe's auto industry seems to be "close to the bottom."

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