New York City U.S. retailers slashed 47,800 jobs in March as they keep shuttering stores and eliminating sales staff. But the pace seems to be moderating and general merchandise stores, which include discounters, actually showed robust job growth.
The cuts marked the fourteenth straight month of job losses in the retail sector, but slightly below the industry's average monthly pace of 51,000 jobs over the past 12 months, according to Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers.
March's pace is about even with the revised 51,000 job losses in February and the revised 46,000 in January, but well below the 88,000 cuts in December and 91,000 in November, when retail job slashing hit a crescendo.
The industry "continues to struggle, but the rates of decline have started to stabilize," said Niemira.
Retail job losses now account for almost 13.2% of the 5.1 million jobs cut in the United States since January 2008, down from 25% in the first six months of last year, Niemira said. The retail industry accounts for about 11% of total payroll employment.
The nation's overall unemployment rate rose to 8.5% in March, the highest since late 1983, as a wide swath of employers eliminated a net total of 663,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department.