Last year, U.S. automotive dealerships employed more than 1.1 million people and according to one hiring expert, retailers may have to cut a third of their work forces by May, totaling approximately 360,000 workers.
As of March 27, no less than 33 states in the U.S. issued executive orders that limited non-essential business activity and impacted dealerships. In some states, pushback from dealer associations saw car dealerships declared as essential businesses but even still, the cuts are far-reaching and impacting thousands.
According to chief executive of technology recruitment firm Hireology, Adam Robinson, many dealerships in states such as California, Washington, and New York started cutting staff in early March. On March 23, Robinson says “the dam burst” as dealership job cuts started to happen en masse.
Greg Rairdon who owns the Rairdon Automotive Group in Kirkland, Washington that operates 10 dealerships has been forced to close all of its sites and put a number of employees on ‘standby unemployment.’ In some states, exemptions have been made that allow dealerships to sell vehicles online and conduct remote deliveries.
Many of the nation’s largest publicly-owned retailers have also been impacted. Group 1 Automotive confirmed last week it was furloughing 3,000 employees across the country for at least 30 days as its sales dropped by 50 to 70 per cent. Similarly, CarMax has closed 91 stores in 21 states but says it has yet to lay off or furlough any employees.