US Auto Sales may hit 1.3 mln in June – Forecast image

New car sales this month in the United States will rise 16 percent compared with a year ago, and the annual sales pace will rise slightly from May to around 13.9 million, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said.

Total light-vehicle sales in June are expected to come in at 1,265,900 units, which is a 16 percent increase from June 2011. Fleet volume as a percentage of total light-vehicle volume is expected to reach 21 percent in June, after falling below 20 percent in May.

LMC Automotive expects a hybrid and electric vehicle sales to account for 3.2 percent of total light-vehicle in 2012.

Americans bought 1.33 million new vehicles last month, said researcher Autodata Corp. May’s annualized sales pace was 13.8 million vehicles, up from an 11.7 million pace a year ago, but down from April’s 14.2 million. It was the first month this year that annualized sales have fallen below 14 million cars and light trucks.

However, the sluggish job market is weighing on the U.S. economy three years after the Great Recession ended. And the signs suggest hiring may not strengthen any time soon.

A measure of the number of people applying for unemployment benefits over the past month has reached a six-month high, the government said Thursday. The increase suggests that layoffs are rising and June will be another tepid month for hiring.

The Federal Reserve, for instance, said on Wednesday it expects the jobless rate to end the year between 8.0 per cent and 8.2 per cent. Just a few months earlier, the central bank forecast the jobless rate could drop to 7.8 per cent by year end.

“Growth in employment has slowed in recent months, and the unemployment rate remains elevated,” the Fed said in its official statement after its latest review of the economy.