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WASHINGTON – Retail industry employment turned a corner in June, gaining 7,400 jobs over May, the National Retail Federation said today. The retail numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. The economy overall saw gains of 222,000 jobs in June, far exceeding growth expectations for the month.
“The gain in June shows that the industry is still very much meeting the demands of consumers and households,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “While one month does not make a trend, retailers are working through a transformative time and gearing up for back-to-school and the not-too-distant winter holiday season.”
Average hourly earnings in June showed a slight gain of 2.5 percent year-over-year, compared with 2.4 percent in May.
On a three-month average, retail jobs have decreased by 2,200 fewer jobs as calculated by NRF. On a year-over-year basis seasonally adjusted, retail jobs have decreased by 32,900 positions.
The retail sector saw mixed results in business lines in June with general merchandise that includes department stores registering a 12,200-job gain. This gain was offset by declines in the clothing segments and health and personal care, which lost a combined 12,600 jobs.
The Labor Department said June unemployment was at 4.4 percent, up from 4.3 percent in May.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing 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.