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Danielle DiMartino Booth

Car Sales Will Be Key to Job Creation

The renewal of the auto industry has been a major driver of economic growth in recent years.
The big number.

The big number.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The rubber is about to meet the road for the U.S. economy. An unlikely candidate, the auto sector, has emerged as the key piece of economic data. That means that June 1, the day May car sales are released, rather than June 2, when the May jobs report will be released, should be the most important date on investors’ radar screens.

Two standout areas of strength in the current recovery have been energy and autos, industries that have always afforded non-college-degree holders strong career paths. The oil slump eviscerated jobs in the first sector, leading many to be optimistic about a rebound that followed oil prices back up. Although many wells have been flipped back into production, the industry became vastly more efficient during the down years, and fewer jobs have returned as a result.