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Retailers scale back in December after job gains in November

Published 08 January 2018

The National Retail Federation has revealed that retail industry employment decreased by 20,200 jobs in December from November.

The number, which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, reverses the increase of 20,500 jobs seen in November over October, which the Labor Department revised upward from the original estimate of a 12,900-job gain, likely because of a shift in seasonal hiring patterns.

NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said: “Retail numbers were lower than we expected but these are seasonally adjusted figures and can be revised as we saw last month.

“We have to be careful not to judge the health of the industry based on initial employment reports. We saw stronger retail spending during the holiday season and we will need to assess further once we see final holiday spending results from the Census Bureau next week.”

“Since seasonal factors used by the Labor Department draw on the history of monthly employment changes, we are not certain that the seasonal factors currently used are adjusting for the transformation occurring in the retail industry,” Kleinhenz said.

Kleinhenz noted that retail job numbers reported by the Labor Department count only employees who work in stores while excluding retail workers in other parts of the business such as corporate headquarters, distribution centers, call centers and innovation labs.

Overall, the economy added 148,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department said. Average hourly earnings increased by 2.5 percent year-over-year, and the unemployment rate remained at 4.1 percent, unchanged from November. NRF believes the rise in employment and wages should bolster income and subsequently spending.



Source: Company Press Release