Washington, D.C. – The National Retail Federation (NRF) calculated retail employment was down 6,700 in February 2014, 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. 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%.
“Retailers continued to rearrange and maximize their payrolls and inventories following the holiday shopping season,” Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the NRF, said. “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. We remain optimistic for continued economic and employment gains this year and are encouraged by the 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.”
The NRF also released a statement urging the federal government not to issue any mandates forcing retailers and small businesses to raise their minimum wage, which the NRF said could hamper economic growth and increase unemployment.