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November Rough for Retail Employment

Despite overall jobs gain in U.S. economy, stores sector fell.

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U.S. department stores lost an estimated 19,000 jobs in November. PHOTOGRAPHY: gorodenkoff/iStock.com

While total nonfarm payroll employment in the U.S. increased by 199,000 in November, retailers were not among the businesses contributing to that gain, according to the latest report from  the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retail trade employment declined by 38,000 in November and has shown little net change over the year, the report shows, with the most notable job drops taking place in department stores (-19,000) and furniture, home furnishings, electronics and appliance retailers (-6,000).

The report also shows that the unemployment rate edged down from 3.9 percent in October to 3.7 percent in November, and that the total number of unemployed persons showed little change, at 6.3 million.

The report also noted that overall employment growth for November is below the average monthly gain of 240,000 over the prior 12 months, but is in line with job growth in recent months. Among the sectors adding jobs in the month were health care, government, manufacturing (due mainly to the return of auto workers from a strike) and motion picture and sound recording industries (again owing to the end of a walkout by workers in that sector).

“What we wanted was a strong but moderating labor market, and that’s what we saw in the November report,” Robert Frick, Corporate Economist with Navy Federal Credit Union told CNBC, noting “healthy job growth, lower unemployment, and decent wage increases. All this points to the labor market reaching a natural equilibrium around 150,000 jobs [per month] next year, which is plenty to continue the expansion, and not enough to trigger a Fed rate hike.”

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