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LI vehicle market stalls in November

Long Island's new car and truck market flattened in November, even as sales nationally rose 14 percent from a year earlier, according to registration statistics.

The slowdown is due to the Island's difficult job market, an economist said.

According to Michigan-based auto data provider R.L. Polk & Co., Long Islanders registered 15,374 new cars and trucks in November, 620 fewer than a year earlier. The bestselling brand was Honda, followed by Nissan.

Previously, sales had risen in September and October over 2010 levels, after months of declines since April. A shortage of certain Japanese models, especially Hondas and Toyotas, resulted from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Those shortages still appear to be affecting sales -- Toyota and Honda new registrations declined slightly on Long Island in November, according to Polk.

But a number of non-Japanese makes also showed declines, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hyundai, BMW and Audi. Not quite negating those losses were substantial gains locally by Dodge, Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.

Local economist Pearl Kamer of the Long Island Association, a business group, blamed the Island's deteriorating job market -- and the resulting inability or reluctance of local consumers to make major purchases or take on major new debt.

The state Department of Labor reported Thursday the Island's economy had 9,900 fewer jobs in December than it did a year earlier. That compares with 8,600 fewer jobs reported for November, year over year. "It's the jobs numbers that are influencing everything," said Kamer.

The trade paper Automotive News reported a 14 percent increase in November from a year earlier in national vehicle sales, which track closely with new registrations.

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