The U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday that new retail jobs in November accounted for 12 percent of nationwide job growth, but that year-over-year retail employment is down—by 16,300 jobs.
Retail-industry employment increased by 18,600 jobs in November, seasonally adjusted from October, comprising a small slice of the 155,000 total U.S. jobs added in November.
This comes on the heels of an adjustment to October’s total job growth count. That count was originally reported as 250,000, but has since been revised to 237,000.
The National Retail Federation (NRF), which is retail’s biggest lobbying group (it’s 2018 lobbying budget was $5.4 million), blamed the slide in retail job growth on the tight labor market—although the Department of Labor reported that overall unemployment remained at 3.7 percent.
NRF’s chief economist Jack Kleinhenz contended in a prepared statement that the labor department’s numbers “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.”
The three-month moving average of retail job growth November showed a loss of 6,700 jobs, but Kleinhenz calls the numbers “satisfying,” and an indication that “the economy continues its momentum of growth.”
But economists are watchful. Financial market results have been erratic recently, and job numbers may be affected by the coming interest rate hike expected to take place following the Federal Reserve’s Dec. 18–19 meeting.
The good news is that as of October 2018, the economy has added 1.9 million jobs this year, representing a growth rate the U.S. hasn’t seen in decades.
The fastest-growing industries so far this year are construction, mining and logging, leisure and hospitality, and professional and business services. Retail—along with the financial activity and information sectors—is among the slowest-growing industries in 2018, according to the labor department.