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Retail Employment Stagnant in December

Though sector’s overall jobs increased by 17,000, department stores shed 13,000 posts.

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Retail Employment Stagnant in December
Department stores cut 13,000 positions in December. PHOTOGRAPHY: Andrea Astes

While December is one of retail’s busiest months, employment in the sector was flat during that period in 2023, just-released numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show. Specifically,  retail trade employment changed little in December, rising by just 17,000 jobs.

That total included a rise of 14,000 jobs at warehouse clubs, supercenters, and other general merchandise retailers; 8000 new jobs at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers; and 4000 at automotive parts, accessories and tire retailers.

However, those gains were offset by a job loss in department stores of 13,000 positions.

“Retail trade employment has shown little change, on net, since recovering in early 2022 from pandemic-related losses,” the report notes.

Overall, total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 216,000 in December, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent. Those numbers are a continuation of robust job-creation and a low unemployment rate that has many observers believing that the U.S. economy may well be headed for a “soft-landing,” which is a moderate slowdown in economic growth with controlled reduction in inflation following a period of growth.

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