Data released by the U.S. Department of Labor on Friday showed that the unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent as the economy added 74,000 jobs—led by the retail industry—in December.
Retail employment rose by 55,000 in December, with gains of 12,000 in food and beverage stores; 12,000 in clothing and accessories stores; 8,000 in general merchandise stores; and 7,000 in motor vehicle and parts dealers.
“The nation’s retailers continued to add to their payrolls in December even in the midst of the condensed holiday shopping season,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers and merchants, especially those operating clothing and general merchandise stores, increased hiring, which may indicate a solid holiday sales season.”
After the retail industry, employment gains were led by professional and business services, wholesale trade, manufacturing and mining, while employment fell in industries like health care, information and construction.
“While the employment gains were much lower than anticipated, gains were made and the economy seems primed for growth,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The shortened holiday calendar and severe weather in many parts of the country certainly impacted these figures but I suspect we will see upward revisions in the coming months.”