Retailers added 39,400 jobs in January

Retail industry employment increased by 39,400 jobs in January over December, making up nearly a fifth of the 227,000 jobs added to the nation’s economy, the National Retail Federation said today. The retail numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“The surge in employment is an indication of strength in the economy but average hourly earnings have been quite volatile and are accelerating more slowly.”

Jack Kleinhenz
NRF Chief Economist

“Certainly the surge in employment is an indication of strength in the economy but average hourly earnings have been quite volatile and are accelerating more slowly,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “In January, overall payrolls came in well above expectations but the solid payroll numbers were offset by wage data."

Average hourly earnings were up 2.5 percent year-over-year, compared with 2.8 percent in December.

On a three-month-average, retail jobs as calculated by NRF have increased by 16,600 positions over last year. On a year-over-year basis, retail jobs have increased by 161,000 positions.

Retail results by business lines saw gains across all categories except general merchandise. Outsized gains were seen in clothing and accessories even after a strong December gain of 17,000 jobs in the same category.

The Labor Department said January unemployment was at 4.8 percent, up from 4.7 percent in December.