Retail industry employment decreased by 8,500 jobs in May from April, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), while average hourly earnings were up 2.5% on a year-over-year basis, in line with growth in recent months. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. The overall economy gained 138,000 jobs in May, the Labor Department said.


“Though job growth in the retail industry decelerated in May, employment overall is above what is needed to keep sustained growth in the economy,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Solid fundamentals in the job market are encouraging for retail spending, as employment gains generate additional income for consumers and consequently increase spending.


“We’ve seen a seesaw of gains and losses in retail employment over the past several months, reflective of the ongoing transformation of our industry,” Kleinhenz continued. “While we are looking for a new equilibrium in retail employment, it will take time for the industry to adjust to rapid changes in consumer spending habits and demographic patterns.”


“We are optimistic that in the months ahead, Congress and the administration will continue to make progress on the regulatory reform agenda and make policy changes like comprehensive tax reform to help the economy grow and create new jobs,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.


On a three-month moving average on a seasonally adjusted basis, retail employment shows a decline of 17,900 jobs. The Labor Department said April unemployment fell to 4.3%, the lowest it has been in more than a decade.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the retail industry currently has over 548,000 job openings.