January retail industry employment fell by 15,100 jobs unadjusted from a year earlier but increased 14,800 jobs seasonally adjusted from December, according to the National Retail Federation.
The retail numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, came as the nation added 304,000 jobs overall versus December, NRF stated, citing United States Department of Labor figures.
The January retail job numbers built from a revised loss of 21,000 jobs in December from November. Reports initially had December up 15,200 jobs over November. A three-month moving average as of January indicated an 8,400 job gain at retail.
January experienced what NRF termed a “surprising” month-over-month gain of 17,400 jobs in sporting goods, hobby and book stores, a recently volatile category that has suffered mostly negative job numbers. In addition, a gain of 2,900 jobs occurred at food and beverage stores, a gain of 2,600 jobs occurred at furniture stores and a gain of 1,500 jobs occurred at electronics and appliance stores. General merchandise store jobs slipped by 12,100 while health and personal care product store jobs slipped by 2,700.
“January figures are always complicated to understand given weather and holiday hiring along with the Labor Department’s annual benchmarking process of updating seasonal adjustment factors and population numbers,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Nonetheless, today’s numbers reinforce that the economy is in a good place and businesses are seeing demand for goods and services, and consequently hiring more workers.”
Kleinhenz noted that retail job numbers reported by the Labor Department only include employees who work in stores, excluding retail workers in other parts of the business, such as corporate headquarters, distribution centers, call centers and innovation labs.