This just in from Hard Numbers News: From 2000 to 2007, an average of 16.8 million vehicles were sold in the States. In 2008, that figure dropped to 13.2 million. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tally for 2009 is expected to put the sales needle somewhere around 10.4 million. According to Bloomberg, that would make last year the worst for new car sales since 1982, when there was not only a recession but also 25 percent fewer Americans.

The good news: sales began to rise at the end of 2009, having sustained themselves nicely after the revelry of cash-for-clunkers. The final data isn't in yet, but Bloomberg's survey of analysts suggests two months of gains in November and December. Predictions estimate that Ford, Toyota, Honda and Nissan saw increases, with General Motors and Chrysler looking at slipping sales.

The silver lining? Meager sales could "indicate significant pent-up demand." That kettle of demand is going to take some time to boil, but a rise in household spending is penciled in for late 2010, along with greater availability of credit, and a drop in unemployment numbers is in the forecast as well. The road to recovery will be a slow one, but hopefully with the turn of the calendar year will come a turn in fortunes for the U.S. economy.

[Source: Bloomberg | Image: Scott Olson/Getty]

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