Washington, D.C. Employees at car dealerships, furniture stores, gas stations and clothing retailers were among the hardest hit by job losses in December, when unemployment climbed to a two-year high, according to the Associated Press.
Workers at department stores bucked the trend that led to the nationwide loss of more than 24,000 total retail jobs last month, but even those companies’ stocks—along with the rest of the retail sector—took a beating on Friday after the Labor Department said the unemployment rate had jumped to 5%.
Consumer spending has been hurt by the housing slump, credit problems and high food and gas prices, analysts said.
On Wall Street, Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penny Co., Kohl’s Inc., Bon-Ton Stores Inc. and Stage Stores Inc. all hit 52-week lows during Friday trading. The major indexes also fell, with the Dow Jones industrial average losing more than 200 points Friday afternoon.