Retail industry employment in US increased by 15,200 jobs in December 2018, seasonally adjusted from November and 37,600 jobs unadjusted year-over-year according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). In terms of retail gains, the nation added 312,000 jobs overall, the labour department said. This excluded automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.
December saw monthly gains of 15,000 jobs at general merchandise stores, which include department stores and warehouse clubs, and 4,000 jobs at food and beverage stores. There were losses of 1,100 jobs at online and other non-store retailers and 9,400 jobs at sporting goods and hobby stores.
Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in December were up 11 per cent over November to $27.48 and up 84 per cent from a year ago, a year-over-year increase of 3.2 per cent. The unemployment was 3.9 per cent, up from 3.7 percent in November, said the labour department.
Preliminary numbers show that retailers hired 576,800 seasonal employees during November and December this year, lower than NRF’s forecast of a total between 585,000 and 650,000 jobs. This was due to the tight labour market which made it difficult to fill openings.
“Today’s numbers indicate that labour demand remains strong and signal that the economy is more stable than what the financial markets suggest,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The strong growth in employment confirms that the labour market is still expanding. And while the unemployment rate increased, it did so for the right reason – more individuals are seeking to enter the labour force since wages are growing and more attractive.”