Retail industry employment in December increased by 15,200 jobs seasonally adjusted from November and 37,600 jobs unadjusted year-over-year, the National Retail Federation said. The retail gains, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, came as the nation added 312,000 jobs overall, the Labor Department said.
“Today’s numbers indicate that labor demand remains strong and signal that the economy is more stable than what the financial markets suggest,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The strong growth in employment confirms that the labor market is still expanding. And while the unemployment rate increased, it did so for the right reason – more individuals are seeking to enter the labor force since wages are growing and more attractive.”
December’s retail job numbers built on a revised increase of 31,100 jobs in November from October. The three-month moving average, which had been at a loss of 6,700 jobs as of November, rose to an increase of 15,200 jobs in December.
December saw monthly gains of 15,000 jobs at general merchandise stores, which include department stores and warehouse clubs, and 4,000 jobs at food and beverage stores. There were losses of 1,100 jobs at online and other non-store retailers and 9,400 jobs at sporting goods and hobby stores.
Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in December were up 11 cents over November to $27.48 and up 84 cents from a year ago, a year-over-year increase of 3.2 percent. The Labor Department said unemployment was 3.9 percent, up from 3.7 percent in November.