Retail industry employment declined slightly in July, decreasing 1,700 jobs from June, the National Retail Federation reported. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. The economy overall saw gains of 209,000 jobs in July, exceeding growth expectations for the month.
On a three-month average, retail jobs have decreased by 4,200 jobs as calculated by NRF.
While the sporting goods sector saw decreased employment in July, department stores, building materials and supply stores, and health and personal care stores all saw job gains. Department store employment has increased for the past two months, with June and July gaining a combined total of 6,000 jobs. The increase in health and personal care employment was a reversal of June’s decline in jobs.
“Overall job and wage growth are positive indicators for the retail industry since it means consumers have more money to spend when they come into stores or shop online,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at NRF. “Of note, the oft-maligned department store sector has had two consecutive months of job increases. With back-to-school shopping ramping up and the holiday season just around the corner, retailers will only be busier in the weeks and months ahead.”
Kleinhenz noted that retail job numbers reported by the Labor Department don’t paint an entirely accurate picture of the industry because they count only employees who work in stores while excluding retail workers in other parts of the business like corporate headquarters, distribution centers, call centers and innovation labs.
Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in July grew 2.5 percent year-over-year, keeping pace with the increase in June. The Labor Department said July unemployment was at 4.3 percent, down from 4.4 percent in June.