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NRF Says Retail Jobs on the Rise; Trade War Could Be ‘Turning Point”

The National Retail Federation says retail industry employment in June increased by 50,200 jobs over the same period last year despite a seasonally adjusted drop from May of 25,800. The numbers exclude auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants. Overall, U.S. businesses added 213,000 jobs over May, according to the Labor Department.

"This is another solid, robust payroll increase that nicely closes out the second quarter and affirms a very strong economy,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “It is consistent with how consumers feel about the economy and their personal finances. Nonetheless, while payroll gains should translate into increased spending in the coming months, if the trade war spreads it may become a turning point for consumer and business confidence that could affect spending.”

June’s monthly drop followed a revised monthly gain of 23,600 jobs in May but Kleinhenz said the beginning of the volatile summer hiring season often brings large swings. Coupled with downward revisions to April and May figures, the three-month moving average in June showed a loss of 1,300 jobs.

June saw monthly gains in clothing and clothing accessory stores, which were up by 6,900 jobs, and non-store, which includes online, was up 1,700 jobs. Losses were concentrated in general merchandise stores, which were down 21,500; grocery and beverage stores, down 8,600; and electronics and appliances stores, down 3,700.

Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in June were up 5 cents over May and 72 cents from a year ago, a year-over-year increase of 2.7 percent. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate was 4 percent, up from 3.8 percent in May.

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.

Late last week The NRF issued a statement from President and CEO Mathew Shay regarding U.S. tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods that were set to take effect on July 6. In part, Shay said “With tariffs against China taking effect, American consumers are one step closer to feeling the full effects of a trade war.”







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