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Retail Employment Improves in September

The retail industry added 9,000 jobs in September, and now employs 14.8 million people in the U.S., making it one of the largest employment sectors.

Retail hiring activity at this time of year is often a reliable barometer of stores’ expectations for Fall/Holiday business. There was a net loss of 3,000 positions in the department, discount and chain store sector in the month, offset by the sizable gain of 10,000 jobs in apparel specialty stores. Although department stores remain the largest retail employer, with 1.5 million jobs, apparel specialty stores are catching up, and now employ 1.4 million in the U.S. The general merchandise store employment remained flat at 3 million jobs.

On a 12-month smoothed basis, retail employment rose by .4%, compared to 1.2% for the overall economy. Department store sector employment fell by 4.5%, compared to growth of 3.4% for specialty stores. For the past 10 months, retail job growth has underperformed the rest of the economy.