OPERATIONS

Big gain in retail jobs

BY Marianne Wilson

February saw a significant uptick in jobs in the retail industry.

Retail industry employment increased by 46,400 jobs in February over January, the National Retail Federation said. The number excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“This substantial gain in retail jobs is a significant positive sign regarding the health and viability of the industry,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “It is stronger than expected and there were broad gains across most retail sectors. Beyond retail, labor markets continued to strengthen in all industries in February, and more jobs throughout the economy will mean more consumers shopping in retail stores.”

The February increase was more than four times the gain of 10,800 jobs seen in January over December. The three-month moving average in February showed an increase of 10,600 jobs.

General merchandise stores were up by 17,700 jobs, fueled mostly by gains at warehouse and supercenter stores, while clothing and accessories stores were up by 14,900 jobs. Building materials stores were up by 10,300 jobs.

There were declines totaling 5,400 jobs spread across health and personal care, sporting goods and miscellaneous stores.

Kleinhenz noted that retail job numbers reported by the Labor Department do not provide an accurate picture of the industry because they count only employees who work in stores while excluding retail workers in other parts of the business such as corporate headquarters, distribution centers, call centers and innovation labs.

Overall, the economy added 313,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department.

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