US retail employment declined by 61,000 in February, according to a report by the National Retail Federation (NRF).
The industry lost 5,300 jobs unadjusted year-over-year due to slow growth in employment across all industries, according to the US Labor Department,
The report also noted that the industry saw an average monthly gain of 166,000 jobs overall for January and February combined.
The overall economy saw a gain of only 20,000 jobs in the month, compared to 311,000 in January. The February retail employment losses follows the 13,700 job increase in January.
NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said: “February’s employment numbers are another surprise, but I really doubt these figures are indicative of the strength of the economy given the overall trends.
“There are a lot of moving parts in play and a lot of noise masking the signal. February saw unfavourable winter weather, and there was also carryover from the adverse effects of the government shutdown and sorting out of the recent volatility in the financial markets that may be evident in today’s numbers.
“Given the outsized strength of January employment, it’s best to look at the longer-term averages for a better understanding of the trends, both for the economy overall and for retail.”
The report also noted a month-over-month gain of 4,000 jobs at food and beverage stores, 3,200 at building materials and supplies stores, and 2,400 at electronics and appliance stores for February.
These gains were offset by 11,700 jobs losses at health and personal care stores and 3,100 at general merchandise stores.