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Retail sector sees employment spike

Retail industry employment increased by 2,500 jobs in April from March, the National Retail Federation said.. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. The overall economy gained 211,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said.

“This rebound in April employment mitigates the weakness in recent months,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “It’s important to remember that job growth and other key economic indicators for any single month or short period can be highly variable. A month or two up or down might be the opposite of the months before or after. It’s long-term trends that tell us the most.” 

“We will be watching the mid-month retail sales numbers to understand how recent employment shifts relate to consumer spending,” Kleinhenz said.

Average hourly earnings remained strong, up a solid 2.5 percent higher than the same time a year ago. On a three-month moving average on a seasonally adjusted basis, retail employment shows a decline of 20,600 jobs.

The Labor Department said April unemployment fell to 4.4 percent, down slightly from 4.5 percent in March.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the retail industry currently has over 541,000 job openings, more than twice as many as it did during the recession.

Recent variations in retail employment levels come as the NRF Foundation is implementing RISE Up (Retail Industry Skills & Education), a new training and credentialing initiative developed with dozens of retailers and non-profits that was launched in January. The program is intended to help individuals acquire skills needed to secure jobs in retail and advance into promising careers regardless of their education, background, economic means or age. RISE Up is designed to build competencies and pathways for the retail workforce of the future from in-store to digital and mobile commerce. 

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.         

Originally posted Monday, May. 8, 2017

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