In March, the number of retail jobs fell by more than 24,000 in the largest decline of any sector. Many economists cited the payroll tax hike, colder-than-average temperatures and lingering effects of the sequester as potential reasons for the decline.
“While the overall impact of the payroll tax increase and sequester remain a significant concern, unease over taxes and spending and the upcoming debate on the debt ceiling in Congress may once again stymie business investment and consumer spending,” National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay said.
The retail industry has added an average of 21,000 jobs every month over the past year. Job growth in general merchandise stores increased by 15,000 while growth in health and personal care stores increased by 5,000.
“Finally some reassuring news on jobs and the economy,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Today’s solid employment news combined with positive March revisions may bode well for the broader economy and portend steady retail sales in April. Retailers are continuing to find innovative ways to engage shoppers with the right mix of products, inventory and employment to meet their customers’ demands. With the significant decrease in jobless claims – at the lowest level since the recession – and an uptick in personal discretionary spending and consumer confidence, today’s news is very promising. We are encouraged by the resilient economy and consumer.”