U.S. dealerships employed more than 1 million people in 2013, the first time the industry has topped that threshold since 2008, early in the recession.
Automotive News reported the 2013 total of 1,008,800 marked a 3 percent gain from 2012, the National Automobile Dealers Association reports in NADA Data 2014, the group’s annual report on dealership sales and financial trends released today.
The average dealership employed 57 people in 2013, up from 55 in 2012, and had an annual payroll of $3 million, up 3 percent. Total payroll for all dealerships was $53.7 billion last year.
NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly forecasts continued growth for the industry in 2014.
“The economic recovery is continuing, and we expect a stronger housing market, improving job prospects and continued low interest rates for auto loans to boost sales this year,” Szakaly said in a statement.
Szakaly is forecasting total light-vehicle sales of 16.4 million in 2014, up from 15.6 million in 2013.
Yet overall dealership profitability is unlikely to rise in 2014 from the 2013 industry average net pretax profit margin of 2.2 percent, defined as pretax profit as a percentage of total revenues. NADA released the figure for 2013 in February. The metric is expected to remain unchanged at 2.2 percent this year, Szakaly said in the report.
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