July retail jobs increase 66,000 over 2017

“While today’s jobs release may appear disappointing after a string of monthly gains, the economy remains fundamentally strong.”

Jack Kleinhenz
NRF Chief Economist

WASHINGTON – Retail industry employment in July increased by 66,000 jobs unadjusted over the same time last year, showing ongoing industry growth, the National Retail Federation said today. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. Overall, U.S. businesses added 157,000 jobs over June, the Labor Department said.

“While today’s jobs release may appear disappointing after a string of monthly gains, the economy remains fundamentally strong,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “In the past, summer months tend to show large employment fluctuations due to the timing of seasonal hiring. However, consumer and business optimism remain elevated and paint a positive picture as we head into the third quarter.”

July’s seasonally adjusted increase of 3,100 jobs over June followed June's revised loss of 23,600 jobs from May. The three-month moving average in July showed an increase of 2,500 jobs.

July saw monthly gains in general merchandise stores, which were up by 14,000 jobs, clothing and accessories stores up 10,000 jobs, and food and beverage stores up 8,000 jobs. Offsetting the gains, employment decreased by 32,000 jobs in sporting, hobby, book, and music stores.

Today’s figures also showed a slight dip in the retail industry unemployment rate, from 4.5 percent to 4.4 percent, which underscores reports surrounding a tight job market in the industry.

Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in July were up 7 cents over June to $27.05, a year-over-year increase of 2.7 percent. The Labor Department said the nationwide unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, down from 4 percent in June.

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.

About NRF
The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF.com