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August retail jobs increase nearly 90,000 over 2017

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WASHINGTON — Retail industry employment last month increased by 89,100, unadjusted for seasonal fluctuations, compared to the same month in 2017, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported Friday.

The August employment figure represents a seasonally adjusted decline of 9,700 jobs from the previous month, NRF said. Seasonal distortions are common in August.

The NRF’s jobs figures exclude employment at automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

Also today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported than nonfarm payrolls increased by 201,000 in August and hourly wages rose 2.9%.

“The strong overall job growth across industries reflects the tight labor market but also shows that the economy is strong,” explained Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at NRF. “Hiring is an important driver of consumer confidence, and a confident consumer is a confident spender. Consumers are continuing to drive the economy forward, but the developing trade war remains a threat to the progress we’re seeing.”

Kleinhenz said the monthly drop in retail sector employment was not a cause for concern because of large employment fluctuations typically seen during the summer. He pointed to the year-over-year increase as a sign of the retail sector’s strength and health.

NRF’s employment figures for August show an increase of 9,200 jobs in sporting goods stores; an increase of 3,500 at grocery stores and beverage stores; and a gain of 2,800 jobs in the non-store category, which includes online retailing.

Job losses were concentrated in clothing and clothing accessory stores (which lost 20,800 jobs), general merchandise (down 3,100 jobs), building supplies and materials (down 2,200 jobs), furniture and home furnishings stores (down 2,000 jobs), and electronics and appliance retailers (down 1,400 jobs).

Overall, the biggest contributor to job gains was professional and business services, which added 53,000 last month, the government reported. Heath care grew by 33,000 jobs, construction increased by 23,000, wholesale trade added 22,000, transportation and warehousing contributed 20,000, and there were 6,000 new mining jobs. Manufacturing lost 3,000 positions last month.


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