Employment Trends in Retail
Even in the holiday season, the retail sector couldn’t escape the volatility it experienced throughout all of 2023. In the fourth quarter, the retail sector started off strong, adding 16,000 jobs, then immediately lost 24,400 net jobs in November, before rebounding with 17,400 jobs in the last month of the year. While growth has essentially plateaued with this sporadic pattern, employment in the sector has eclipsed pre-pandemic levels. Something to note is that these figures are seasonally adjusted, meaning that they account for the holiday season variation of increased hiring. Unadjusted numbers show growth; it is not that the retail sector was not hiring strongly in the fourth quarter, just that it was less robust than seasonal adjustments expected.
Within the retail subsectors, growth was generally negative in December. Of those we track, the only sector that experienced positive growth was general merchandise retailers, which added 1,600 net new jobs. Other sectors (not shown in the chart below) that gained workers were clothing, jewelry, and shoe retailers, along with warehouse clubs and supercenters. Both these subsectors likely see holiday-driven increases in traffic, so it naturally follows they would see increases in employment during this season.
Enjoying this report?
Download to continue reading