Changes in the employment market have wreaked havoc with many job segments, none more so than the Automotive Industry. This disparity is causing turmoil in both employee retention and recruiting.
With a robust hiring market and low inflation, most workers are seeing an improvement in their purchase power and a rise to middle class. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Dealership workers. The average non-managerial wage has declined from it's high between 1992 to 1997, and is 10% lower for the period of 2013 to 2018. This is according to public data from the Labor Department.
The net effect is that automotive jobs have gone from being an above average earning position, to 10% below the national median average.
The income decline is across all positions like Sales Representative, Technician, Clerical, and Business Development. There are a number of factors compressing the market. Internet competition has forced dealers to seek cost cutting and freeze wages. A lack of support from parent manufacturer companies, with minimal investment in employee growth. Many manufacturers going as far as calling dealership employees a necessary evil (or seeking to remove them, Tesla).
The last factor is the general lack of education required to work. Most industries that are growing income require certifications and continuing improvement education for employees. Growing the competence of the staff, leading to revenue per employee growth.
The trajectory of income loss, lowered qualifications, manufacturer disenfranchisement, and internet pressure are very similar to what happened to the electronics industry. It is all just happening 20 years later. The electronics industry ended up breaking all the franchise agreements, cutting out professional sales representatives and technicians, and moving to an online marketplace.
The Automotive Industry is going to need to make a choice about what type of job it wants to offer. Are we going to be the industry that people use as an entry level technical, sales, or clerical position? A low wage position that can be used as a stepping stone to other industries. Or will the Automotive Industry work to move pay scales, bring in a higher quality employee and retain its position as a career to be desired?