The retail industry grew by 14,800 jobs in January, or about 5 percent of overall U.S. job growth last month, the Labor Department reports. The figures include only employees working in stores while excluding others in corporate headquarters, distribution and call centers.
Lines with the largest gains were sporting goods and bookstores, food and beverage stores and furniture stores. Those were balanced by net losses in department stores and outlets carrying personal care products.
Though this monthly update is considered to be a rough measure of economic health, a national economist considers the retail industry to be healthy heading into the new year.
“Today’s numbers reinforce that the economy is in a good place and businesses are seeing demand for goods and services and consequently hiring more workers,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation.