Retail jobs down in October due to extreme weather, edgy political season

After months of increases, the retail industry lost 7,000 jobs in October over September as consumers were buffeted by hurricanes and floods, unseasonably warm weather and an anxiety-producing campaign season, the National Retail Federation said today. The numbers, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, came as the Labor Department announced that the U.S. economy overall gained 161,000 jobs.

“The jump in hourly earnings is very encouraging for the consumer spending outlook as we kick off the holiday season.”

Jack Kleinhenz
NRF Chief Economist

“Overall workforce employment gains in October were healthy but retail jobs dipped slightly, possibly reflecting retailers adjusting for the edgy political environment, extreme weather and record-high average temperatures,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “However, the jump in hourly earnings is very encouraging for the consumer spending outlook as we kick off the holiday season.”

Despite the drop in retail employment, average hourly earnings rose 2.8 percent, the largest increase since mid-2009.

On a three-month average, retail jobs as calculated by NRF have increased by 5,300 positions over last year. On a year-over-year basis, retail jobs have increased by 162,000 positions.

The clothing and accessories category experienced the greatest loss of jobs, with a decrease of more than 15,000 positions in October. However, general merchandise gained nearly 10,000 jobs.