Alabama residents see manufacturing leading economic recovery The affluent sense a car-buying opportunity; Alabama-made autos drawing interest.

AUBURN (August 10, 2009) With Alabama auto plants churning out more cars again and the Federal “Cash for Clunkers” program drawing shoppers back to new-car showrooms, Alabama residents feel a turnaround coming. Auburn University’s Center for Governmental Services today released additional statewide polling results showing that Alabama residents believe the manufacturing sector is most likely to lead the state’s recovery from recession. About one in three residents (33%) expects manufacturers to provide the boost that brings back jobs and income to Alabama, hastening the end of the current economic downturn.

After manufacturing, the newer high tech (15%) and healthcare (12%) industries are seen by Alabama residents as the next most likely sectors to lead an economic recovery, followed by agriculture (9%), government (5%), and tourism (3%).

One growing segment of Alabama’s surging manufacturing sector—the automobile industry—is likely to figure in a recovery and consumers seem to have noticed. When asked whether it’s time to buy a car, 60 percent of the Alabama residents polled say that the next 12 months will be a “good time” to enter the market. Perceptions that this is an auto-buying opportunity are linked closely to income. Auburn researchers discovered that the wealthier you are, the stronger your sense that this is a good time to look for a car-deal. Lower income residents are less interested, even with all the rebates, tax credits, and other special deals being offered by new and used car dealers.

Poll results also suggest that automakers with Alabama factories might want to make a stronger marketing pitch that their vehicles are made in the state. One in four consumers (26%) said that it would matter “a lot” to them if a car is made here in Alabama. Another 20% said it would matter some.

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