In response to the February jobs report, The National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay said, “While there are signs of modest momentum in the economy, now is not the time to play partisan politics with the recovery by forcing federal mandates on retailers and small business owners like an increase in the minimum wage.”
Matthew Shay said. “Such policy decisions could hamper economic growth and actually drive up the unemployment rate.”
NRF calculated retail employment down 6,700 in February yet up 205,500 year-over-year. The biggest job losses were seen in electronics and appliance stores, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores. December and January retail employment figures were also revised downward.
“Retailers continued to rearrange and maximize their payrolls and inventories following the holiday shopping season,” Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “This decline should be temporary in nature and viewed as a speed bump. We really need to lift the snow screen to adequately measure the economy and jobs situation.
“We remain optimistic for continued economic and employment gains this year and are encouraged by the growth in construction jobs and building material employment last month, which suggests a forthcoming improvement in residential and nonresidential spending along with household and business confidence.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary showed that February total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 175,000 with the unemployment rate at 6.7 percent and the labor force participation rate at 63.0 percent.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.