Pickup sales picking up and economy hitches a ride

Business may be picking up, if the pickup truck is any indicator.

When times are good, contractors and weekend haulers buy more of them.

And lately sales have started shifting into a higher gear. Americans bought 151,000 pickups last month, 19 percent more than a year ago.

Pickup sales peaked at 2.5 million in 2004, when the housing boom was in full swing.

Four years later, the economy was teetering, gas topped $4 a gallon and pickup sales crashed. It got worse when the financial crisis stuck.

This year, pickup sales have been gaining momentum. Through May, Americans bought 11 percent more than they did in the first five months of last year and the sales pace has been accelerating.

The buyers are mostly companies in the service sector that have finally decided to replace some of their aging fleets.

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