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Retail employee
Economy

For retail, seasonal employment provides slight increase in December

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In the month of December, the retail industry saw a slight increase of 900 jobs; however, a major revision of November retail employment showed a gain of 17,200 jobs, a swing of 25,000 jobs from the initial report of an 8,300 job loss, the National Retail Federation said today. The revision may be due to a shift in seasonal hiring patterns. NRF calculations exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“The average hourly earnings increase was the strongest pace seen since July 2009 and supported a large part of 2016 holiday spending.”
Jack Kleinhenz
NRF Chief Economist

“While job growth slowed, the average hourly earnings increase was the strongest pace seen since July 2009 and supported a large part of 2016 holiday spending,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The strong average hourly earnings and the slight increase in the unemployment rate signal that the economy is near or approaching full employment. These factors will add fuel to consumer spending in 2017 and to the overall economy.”

In December, average hourly earnings increased 0.4 percent over November and by 2.9 percent year-over-year.

Mixed readings for retail business lines in December are due in part to big swings from November to December revisions. For example, clothing and accessories showed gains of 10,300 jobs in December after initial reports of a decline of 17,600 jobs for November.  

With more households than ever before opting to do their holiday shopping online, seasonal hiring patterns have positively impacted the couriers and delivery and warehousing and storage sectors, which saw a combined gain of 13,300 jobs in December.

Seasonal Hiring

Preliminary reports indicate that retailers hired 615,000 seasonal employees. However, if this month’s release is any indication, revisions by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics are likely — and this number could grow. In October, NRF forecasted seasonal employment to grow by 640,000-690,000 jobs over the holidays. This is in line with the 675,300 new holiday positions created during the 2015 season.

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