National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay and chief economist Jack Kleinhenz issued a response to the organization’s February jobs report.
“While there are signs of modest momentum in the economy, now is not the time to play partisan politics with the recovery by forcing federal mandates on retailers and small business owners like an increase in the minimum wage,” Shay said. “Such policy decisions could hamper economic growth and actually drive up the unemployment rate.”
NRF calculated retail employment down 6,700 in February, yet up 205,500 year-over-year. The biggest job losses were seen in electronics and appliance stores, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores. December and January retail employment figures were also revised downward.
“Retailers continued to rearrange and maximize their payrolls and inventories following the holiday shopping season,” added Kleinhenz. “This decline should be temporary in nature and viewed as a speed bump. We really need to lift the snow screen to adequately measure the economy and jobs situation.”
Kleinhenz went on to express optimism for continued economic and employment gains this year and says the NRF is encouraged by growth in construction jobs and building material employment last month, which suggests a forthcoming improvement in residential and nonresidential spending along with household and business confidence.
Shay and Kleinhenz also added that the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary showed that February total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 175,000 with the unemployment rate at 6.7% and the labor force participation rate at 63%.