For the first time in a decade, the number of new car dealerships in the United States has risen. Mind you, it wasn't a large increase, but the 66 additional dealerships represent a 0.4 percent increase that brings the U.S. total to 17,725. That's an encouraging economic sign considering we haven't seen any growth in ten years.

According to Detroit-based retail consulting firm Urban Science, that growth is occurring in and around metropolitan areas, which an 0.7 percent increase in the number of new car dealerships. Conversely, however, rural areas fell by 0.5 percent. Still, the overall picture is healthier for U.S. dealerships, with automakers reporting their dealers averaging more sales per lot compared to the year prior, and an increase in overall dealer profitability.

This growth, however minor it may appear, is a strong indicator that the industry is stabilizing after taking a beating the last few years. In 2008, the U.S. had 20,000 dealers, which may sound like a lot, but it's a far cry from the 47,000 dealers in the country at the end of World War II. We probably don't need to return to 47,000 and we probably don't even need to climb back to 20,000, but it's good to see growth in an industry that's faced a few years in decline.

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