Retail jobs on decline after big weather events

The retail industry lost 18,000 jobs in October, according to the National Retail Federation, and while it’s hard to pinpoint specific reasons, extreme weather events may have played a part.

The figure does not include auto dealers, restaurants or gas stations, and the economy, overall, has added 261,000 jobs, according to the release which cited Labor Department figures.

“Retail jobs were down in October while overall employment was up, but it is difficult to draw conclusions because the jobs data is still distorted by the aftermath of the recent hurricanes,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in the release. “The storms have caused some consumers to defer discretionary spending, but at the same time retailers selling building materials saw a significant increase in sales as homeowners and businesses affected by the storms rebuild and make repairs. There continues to be a significant number of job openings in retail, so the drop could reflect a difficulty in hiring given the low unemployment rate. Also keep in mind that retailers are on the verge of adding half a million or more temporary workers for the holiday season.”

Employment at retailers selling building materials and supplies increased by 5,500 jobs in October, noted the release.

 

Retailer Customer Experience

November 7, 2017

Desperate employers search for holiday workers in tight job market

When UPS lured holiday job seekers recently to its Columbus, Ohio, package sorting center, it turned the dreary process of interviews and background checks into a full-blown party complete with candy and movie-ticket giveaways.

Faced with a shrinking labor pool and a need to fill 95,000 extra jobs this holiday season, the Louisville-based delivery giant has been left scrambling to find innovative ways to tempt potential employees— including turning recruiting sessions into celebrations.

It’s not just UPS. As the holidays draw closer and holiday hiring is in full swing, industries across the board are feeling the unintended side effects of a falling unemployment rate— now at a 17-year low of 4.1%. But retail, food services and delivery, industries that are an essential part of the holiday grind, are among the most vulnerable.

“It’s definitely a workers’ market,” says Peter Harrison, CEO of Snagajob, an online job search engine, who says companies on the platform are increasingly struggling to find workers. “No question about it. Right now, employers are having to do everything they can to lure people in.”

Starting with pay. Hooplas and giveaways aside, companies know nothing can help them sign up workers faster than the prospect of more cold hard cash and benefits:

• Target. The big-box retailer recently announced it’s increasing the hourly minimum wage to $11 an hour, with plans to go as high as $15 an hour by 2020.

• J.C. Penney. The department store chain will start offering paid time off, up to one week a year, to eligible part-time employees in early 2018.

• UPS. The deliverer known for its distinctive brown trucks offers weekly retention bonuses, up to $200 a week, as a reward to employees who work every day.

As for getting out the word, that’s where the parties come in.

“It’s just another way to reach people,” says Dan McMackin, a UPS spokesperson, who says recruiters also went to football games and Green Day concerts. “The competition for workers means we’ve got to be creative. We need to get out there and talk to everyone.”

Areas with unemployment levels below the national average have been hit the hardest.

In Columbus, for instance, where UPS held its recent holiday recruiting party, the unemployment rate was 3.8% in September, compared to the U.S. rate of 4.2% (the national rate dipped to 4.1% in October). The Columbus area was tied for 168th-lowest in unemployment among 388 metro areas.

Last summer, in Fort Collins, Colo., where the unemployment rate was 1.9% in September, second lowest in the nation, Abbie Lowe, was struggling to staff her store, Neighborhood Liquors. She had a sign on the door for more than a month in addition to the ads posted on Craigslist. Lowe got four resumes.

“Typically, we had a bigger pool to select potential employees from,” Lowe says. “But there are jobs everywhere here. Even day laborers are getting jobs all the time. We can’t keep anyone in here.”

As the holiday season looms, Target plans to hire more than 100,000 extra hourly workers to help out in stores. Josh King has the story (@abridgetoland). Buzz60

In Exeter, N.H., where the unemployment rate hovers around 2.3%, Ryan Abood, CEO of Gourmet Giftbags, an online retailer that makes upscale gift bags, says he focuses on offering “creature comforts” to lure in holiday-season employees.

“It’s all about creating a good vibe at work,” he says. That includes an office with a pool table, air hockey and ping-pong game.

The company, which sells about a million gift baskets a year, usually triples its full-time workforce during the holiday season from 55 people to around 150. Three years ago, Abood says, he received between 50 and 70 applications. This year he had fewer than 10.

 “It’s gone from bad to brutal for employers in terms of the talent pool,” Abood says. The company now has a bus service that picks workers up and brings them to the workplace.

“It’s bad when employers are busing workers to work to get enough people to execute the work we do,” he says. “We would never do that if the talent pool wasn’t so bad. Why would we go through all that extra hassle?”

Some companies are turning to social media or temporary staffing companies to fill the gap— but have had little luck.

“You ask for 10 temps and they send you eight,” says Butch Yamali, CEO of The Dover Group, which owns 12 companies, including restaurants, a catering hall and a construction company in the Nassau County, N.Y. area. Dover Group has more than 1,000 employees.

 About six months ago, Yamali began offering bonuses to current employees who recommend new people. In the past he never had to worry about finding workers.

“You’d just ask a staff member if they have a friend or relative to work,” says Yamali, who says the holidays are the busiest time of year. “There was always some way to find staff. Now it’s impossible. It hurts. People are out spending money but we don’t have enough staff to catch them properly.”

Other companies are leveraging new technology to compete for workers. More than 50 franchisees and corporate partners across the U.S., such as various McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, began using Instant Financial earlier this year. The service allows employees to be paid by the day instead of waiting until the end of the week or month.

This summer’s string of hurricanes in the South left an even bigger dent in the labor pool, especially among construction workers.

“This is not necessarily a bad thing for the people looking for jobs,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation. “They’re going to find them.”

But for employers, many have been forced to lower their hiring standards.

“A growing number of employers used to have elaborate assessments to get hired,” Harrison says. “They’ve had to dramatically shorten them—or eliminate them all together in some cases. If they make it too hard to apply, then people will just not apply.”

, USA TODAY

U.S. employers add 261,000 jobs in October, but wage growth stays subdued

America’s job-creation machine, idled by the hurricanes in September, fired back up last month as employers added more than a quarter-million new jobs. But for most workers, stronger wage gains remain elusive.

The government’s latest snapshot of national employment, released Friday, showed that the labor market remains remarkably resilient. Employment snapped back last month with a net addition of a hefty 261,000 jobs, after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma depressed payrolls in September. Workers at restaurants and bars returned to their jobs, and hiring in manufacturing picked up, even as it languished at retailers.

The country’s jobless rate fell a notch to a 17-year low of 4.1%.

Though last month’s decline in the unemployment rate was due to a large drop in the size of the labor force, measures of unemployment and underemployment have come down significantly this year. The number of employees who are working part time involuntarily — either because they could not find full-time jobs or could not get more hours from their employers — has declined by about 1.1 million from the start of the year.

For those with college degrees, the unemployment figure is now down to a mere 2%. And the jobless rate for those with less than high school diplomas, 5.7% in October, is the lowest in at least 25 years.

“The economy is chugging along,” said Marvin Loh, senior global market strategist at BNY Mellon, an investment services firm. The Federal Reserve, he said, will view the report as consistent with its plans to raise interest rates next month.

And yet, there is little indication that workers are broadly benefiting with higher pay.

Friday’s Labor Department report said that average hourly earnings for all private-sector workers dropped a penny last month, to $26.53, after jumping 12 cents in September. Over the past 12 months, average pay for workers has risen just 2.4%, about the same middling pace as over the last three years.

That wages haven’t accelerated has been a puzzle. It could be because there is more slack in the labor market, meaning more people are available for work than official unemployment statistics would suggest. Some think it’s because younger people replacing the large cohort of older employees are coming in at lower pay rates. There are also more part-timers today than before the recession, and these workers tend to see smaller pay raises than full-time employees, said Cathy Barrera, chief economist for the jobs site ZipRecruiter.

Whatever the reason, many analysts are expecting wage growth to tick higher very soon as the supply of workers continues to thin. Already many employers are struggling to find qualified workers. The retail industry, for example, reported 647,000 openings in August, the most ever for that month.

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, agrees that wages are bound to head higher. At the same time, he said, many retailers don’t have much pricing power, thanks in part to competition from online stores. Since reaching a peak employment of 15.9 million in January, the retail industry has shed 101,000 jobs, including 8,300 last month, many at department stores and clothing outlets.

The size of the decline is exaggerated, Kleinhenz said, because some of those lost jobs were actually shifted to warehouses as traditional stores do more business online. For the holiday shopping season, retailers are expected to add up to 550,000 workers in November and December — down from 675,000 in the same period of 2015.

By contrast, U.S. manufacturers have been gathering steam recently. After no new net hiring last year, the manufacturing sector has added 156,000 workers in the last 12 months, including 24,000 in October.

Stronger growth in the global economy has boosted demand and confidence among U.S. manufacturers, as has prospects for a tax overhaul this year. “They’re pretty upbeat about the pro-business environment,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Assn. of Manufacturers.

Last month there was also strong hiring among higher-paying professional and business services. Healthcare had a solid month as well.

On the whole, the job growth of 261,000 in October was less than the 310,000 that analysts were expecting, but the September payroll change was revised higher — from a loss of 33,000 jobs initially reported to a small gain of 18,000. Job gains for August also proved to be stronger than previously estimated.

Taking the last three months together, employers added on average 162,000 jobs a month. That is down from a monthly average of 177,000 in the first half of this year and 187,000 in 2016.

Analysts expect the economy to keep adding around 150,000 jobs a month, on average, in the near term. That would be well above the roughly 100,000 jobs needed to absorb the increase in the workforce population and keep the unemployment rate from rising.

“More and more people are finding jobs, but it’s not even,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist with employment website Indeed.com. Workers in large metro areas are doing better, he said, and labor markets are growing faster in the South and West where there is greater migration.

“I suspect we’ll continue to see healthy job growth, but at a slower pace as the recovery matures,” Kolko added. “The big question is whether continued growth will translate into higher wages or not.”

Retail Jobs Decline in October

Retail industry employment declined by 18,000 jobs in October, according to the National Retail Federation. The number excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. Overall, the economy added 261,000 jobs, the Labor Department said.

“Retail jobs were down in October while overall employment was up, but it is difficult to draw conclusions because the jobs data is still distorted by the aftermath of the recent hurricanes,”  said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “The storms have caused some consumers to defer discretionary spending but at the same time retailers selling building materials saw a significant increase in sales as homeowners and businesses affected by the storms rebuild and make repairs. There continues to be a significant number of job openings in retail, so the drop could reflect a difficulty in hiring given the low unemployment rate. Also keep in mind that retailers are on the verge of adding half a million or more temporary workers for the holiday season.”

“We look forward to seeing how the tax reform bill introduced this week will affect employment,” Kleinhenz said. “We expect that tax reform for employers will go a long way to creating jobs and boosting the nation’s economy.”

The October drop compares with an increase of 4,200 jobs in September, which was revised after initially being reported as a loss of 4,600 jobs. The three-month moving average in October showed a loss of 6,900 jobs compared with the same period a year ago. That was an improvement over a three-month loss of 8,500 in September.

Employment at stores selling building materials and supplies was up by 5,500 jobs in October, reflecting a surge seen since the hurricanes in August and September.

Kleinhenz noted that retail job numbers reported by the Labor Department do not provide an accurate picture of the industry because they count only employees who work in stores while excluding retail workers in other parts of the business such as corporate headquarters, distribution centers, call centers and innovation labs. Warehouse and storage jobs, for example, were up by 3,100 jobs in October over September but do not count as retail jobs even if the workers are employed by retailers.

Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in October increased by 63 cents, 2.4 percent, year over year. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate decreased to 4.1 percent, down from 4.2 percent in September.

 

By Pet product News

11/5/17

Retail industry sees major drop in employment

KARA DRISCOLL

The retail industry lost more than 18,000 jobs in October, in part due to the catastrophic hurricane season in many communities.

The number excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. Overall, the economy added 261,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Labor Department. NRF economists said the storm caused consumers to defer discretionary spending.

“Retail jobs were down in October while overall employment was up, but it is difficult to draw conclusions because the jobs data is still distorted by the aftermath of the recent hurricanes,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

 Retailers that sell building materials saw a significant increase in sales as homeowners and businesses affected by the hurricanes recover. The October drop compares with an increase of 4,200 jobs in September.

The three-month moving average in October showed a loss of 6,900 jobs compared with the same period a year ago. That was an improvement over a three-month loss of 8,500 in September, according to the NRF.

“There continues to be a significant number of job openings in retail, so the drop could reflect a difficulty in hiring given the low unemployment rate,” Kleinhenz said. “Also keep in mind that retailers are on the verge of adding half a million or more temporary workers for the holiday season.”

Kara Driscoll

Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017
Dayton Daily News

Slower auto production leads to 4,286-job drop

Employment fell in Northeast Ohio in September by an estimated 4,286 jobs, according to the latest Crain’s Employment Report (CER), attributable in large measure to a decline in vehicle production.

The drop represents a 0.4% decline in the local workforce. It puts the estimate of employment in the seven-county Northeast Ohio region employed at 1,169,431 people in September, down from 1,173,717 in August.

The region has lost 6,682 jobs, or 0.6%, from an estimate of 1,176,113 jobs in September 2016.

Cleveland Heights economist Jack Kleinhenz, who developed the CER model, attributed the decline to slower auto production. The goods-producing sector of the regional economy, which includes auto production and other manufacturing jobs, lost 3,601 jobs in September, a 1.7% decline, while the service sector, which employs four times as many people as the goods sector, lost only 685 jobs, for a lost of less than 0.1%.

U.S. auto production has slowed in recent months, declining from 326,000 units in August 2016 to 252,800 units in August 2017, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. That has led to shutdowns or layoffs at the region’s auto plants. For example, General Motors Corp. scheduled nine weeks of down time at its assembly plant in Lordstown for 2017, according to the Youngstown Vindicator .

By contrast, construction contractors were experiencing a shortage of experienced labor, making it difficult to fill newly created positions, according to regional information in the Federal Reserve Bank’s September summary of economic conditions, or Beige Book.

The Beige Book also reports that disruptions to spending and production are expected to reduce economic activity nationally in the third quarter of the year but boost it in the fourth quarter. Kleinhenz, who is chief economist for the National Retail Federation, agrees with that outlook, as he expects hurricane-hit households to replace lost vehicles and to fix up damaged homes, while businesses in the path of the hurricanes return to full operations in the last quarter of the year.

“A key reason to remain upbeat about the outlook is the optimism evident in business and consumer sentiment surveys,” he reported.

He cited, for example, the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, which jumped 6.0 points in early October to 101.1, its highest level since the start of 2004.

“The surge appears to be driven by increased optimism about employment and income prospects,” Kleinhenz said, though he noted that the NFIB small business sentiment index dropped. However, the index still held at a level higher than a year ago.

Jay Miller

Crain’s Cleveland Business

Economic outlook seems positive for retailers, economist says

By JOHN REID BLACKWELL Richmond Times-Dispatch Sep 8, 2017
Jack Kleinhenz

 

Jack Kleinhenz, the National Retail Federation’s chief economist, spoke Friday morning at an economic outlook breakfast hosted by the local Retail Merchants group.

GREGORY J. GILLIGAN/TIMES-DISPATCH
Predictions of the demise of bricks-and-mortar retail because of online shopping are premature, an economist told Richmond-area merchants Friday as part of a mostly optimistic economic outlook report.

“Ninety percent of spending by consumers is still brick-and-mortar,” said Jack Kleinhenz, the National Retail Federation’s chief economist, speaking at an economic outlook breakfast hosted by the local Retail Merchants group.

“E-commerce is changing our lives, there is no doubt about it. It is going to gain,” he said. “I think that retailers who can adjust and incorporate e-commerce into various channels are going to be successful.”

Despite some high-profile retail store closings nationwide that have grabbed attention this year and raised questions about the impact of online shopping, retail store openings still have outpaced closings, Kleinhenz said.

He cited a report by IHL Group, touted on the National Retail Federation’s website, indicating there will be a net increase in retail store openings of more than 4,000 in 2017. In June alone, he said, there were 620,000 job openings in the retail industry.

“I am trying to suggest to you that the retail industry is a lot more healthy than it is made out to be,” he said.

Kleinhenz gave a mostly optimistic outlook for the economy, pointing to positive gross domestic product growth, falling unemployment rates and solid job gains as good signs for retail sales.

He declined to give a prediction for this year’s holiday retail sales, saying more data need to be collected before a forecast is done.

An informal, text-message poll about holiday sales expectations was conducted among the roughly 160 attendees at the event held at the Westin Richmond hotel. Of those who responded, 68 percent said they think sales will be up.

“I think the economy has been doing OK — it is a solid outlook,” Kleinhenz said. “We are getting very close to full employment, so we won’t see a lot of job growth.”

Potential negatives include uncertainty about federal government policies affecting business, and lackluster wage growth since the recession ended. “Wages have not moved up as fast as what we would have thought during an expansion,” he said.

jblackwell@timesdispatch.com

(804) 775-8123

How and why NRF forecasts the economic future

August 07, 2017
Susan Reda

As the chief economist for the largest retail trade organization in the world, Jack Kleinhenz’s days revolve around big data and economic forecasting models. With over 35 years of experience, Kleinhenz is well-versed in examining data patterns and trying to provide some perspective. “I’m a storyteller,” he says, and forecasting is “like a jigsaw puzzle.” Raw data is put into models and it’s Kleinhenz’s job to provide the narrative — a combination of art and science.

On this week’s episode of Retail Gets Real, Kleinhenz sits down in the podcast studio to explain how and why we forecast the economic future and what he thinks is on the horizon.

Jack Kleinhenz in the podcast studio

https://nrf.com/news/how-and-why-nrf-forecasts-the-economic-future

While economists use different models, they all use the same variables, so there are established core patterns. To measure income levels, for example, the Bureau of Economic Analysis collects data on a month-to-month basis, taking into account such factors as personal income, after-tax income and consumption levels. “These are estimates,” Kleinhenz clarifies. “They’re not perfect numbers.”

To get a more accurate picture, part of Kleinhenz’s job is to continually converse with retailers. “It’s kind of a moving picture we’re trying to figure out,” he says. Technological innovations have greatly changed the task of forecasting. The concept of big data is transformative; when information comes in real time instead of through surveys, it greatly increases the accuracy of predictions.

“The market has been changing and consumers have changed their behavior.”
Jack Kleinhenz

“What’s going on in the financial markets and these stores does not necessarily mean that consumers have gone away and stopped shopping,” Kleinhenz says about the shifts taking place in the retail industry today. “The market has been changing and consumers have changed their behavior.”
Kleinhenz is optimistic about the future, saying the changes have more to do with demographics: The dense population in the U.S. Midwest 20-30 years ago, as one example, has moved to more urban areas in the Southeast and Southwest, and the shopping malls that catered to their needs do not attract as much demand anymore.

Another reason is that consumers don’t spend the way they used to. Younger consumers have drastically different buying habits, make life decisions later and seek more experiences — opposed to products — than older generations. “People still want to shop,” Kleinhenz says, “It’s recreational. It’s social.”
Listen to this week’s episode to learn why the perception of retail’s transformation is far from the reality, and catch up on some of our most popular past episodes, like Get ready for Gen Z and the future of the retail store.

 

Susan Reda is one of NRF’s co-hosts on Retail Gets Real. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.

ACE Report: Jobs jumped in July, but longer-term data is down

ACE Report: Jobs jumped in July, but longer-term data is down

Scott Suttell

July was a good month for jobs in Northeast Ohio, as the region added 6,200 positions on a seasonally adjusted basis from June, according to the latest Ahola Crain’s Employment Report.
But dig a little deeper into the numbers and there’s less to be excited about.

For one, the July increase followed declines in the previous two months — losses of 5,527 jobs in June and 3,708 in May in the seven-county Northeast Ohio region. And, as Cleveland Heights economist Jack Kleinhenz, who developed the ACE Report economic model, pointed out in an analysis of the most recent data, the region’s estimated total employment of 1,173,216 in July represents 3,577 fewer jobs than the like month a year earlier.

The July total payroll estimate for the region also was ever-so-slightly below the six-month trend, which is 1,173,492, according to the ACE Report data.

Service-producing firms registered a larger share of the July increase, at 3,944 jobs, while the goods-producing sector showed a gain of 2,256 jobs, Kleinhenz reported. The report is based on payroll data from about 3,000 employers and is gathered by The Ahola Corp., a Brecksville-based payroll and human resources firm.

In his analysis, Kleinhenz wrote that the growth in regional employment last month “is consistent with July’s national employment release showing a solid increase of 209,000 jobs. The job gains are consistent with 2%-plus economic growth, steady consumer spending and Fed policy as currently projected for a December rate hike.”

The so-so ACE Report results are consistent with a Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland report released on Thursday, Aug. 17, that found employment growth in Cleveland “has been weak,” and stated that while the economy here is growing, it’s doing so at a slower pace than that of Ohio and the nation as a whole.
Stronger growth could be ahead, Kleinhenz noted, as the U.S. economy “bounced back in the second quarter, growing at an estimated 2.6% on an annualized basis. This is more than twice the pace of the first quarter and brings expansion in the first half of 2017 close to the 2% underlying trend pace.”

ACE Report: NEO goods-producing sector takes biggest jobs hit in June

The regional employment roller coaster continued in June with Northeast Ohio losing 5,518 jobs from the May total, as total private sector employment dropped to a projected 1,167,386 — a 0.47% loss. Looking year-to-year, past the monthly fluctuations, the job loss in the seven-county metropolitan area since June 2016 is 0.02%, or 290 jobs, according to the Ahola Crain’s Employment, or ACE, Report.

The June job loss was heaviest in the goods-producing section, which includes manufacturing and construction — 3,380 jobs lost between May and June versus 2,138 jobs lost in the larger service sector, which accounts for 82% of the private sector jobs tracked in the ACE survey.

Year over year, the goods sector lost 4,912 jobs versus a gain of 4,621 jobs in services.

Jack Kleinhenz, the Cleveland Heights economist who created the ACE Report model, said the losses are not a serious concern.

“Too much should not be made out of June’s decline,” he said. “It does not point to any major concerns for regional growth. The national and regional economies continue to wander forward at a moderate pace.”

Kleinhenz attributed part of the decline to the auto industry, a large employer in the region, and the summer shutdowns of auto plants.

The July 12 Beige Book, the Federal Reserve Bank’s report on the economy, noted that payrolls in the Fourth District, which includes all of Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia, continued to expand since the last Beige Book report released May 31, although at a slightly slower pace.

Longer term and nationally, Kleinhenz noted that the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported the manufacturing sector nationally grew in June and the overall economy grew for the 97th consecutive month. The ISM manufacturing employment index showed a 3.7% increase over May.

“The labor market remains very healthy and continues to show the confidence in workers willing to leave one job for another,” Kleinhenz said.

Closer to home, the recent Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, in its “2024 Job Outlook,” is projecting that employment in the region will grow by 74,700 jobs to 1,475,300 by 2024. That’s a 5.3% increase over the 1,400,600 employed in the 2014 base year. The projected growth will come despite a loss of 7,200 manufacturing jobs.

The growth sectors include health care (27,400 jobs), food preparation and serving (7,100) and transportation and material handling (5,000). Many of the jobs that are expected to grow the fastest were in low-paying occupations such as home health aide and restaurant cooks. The report also projected significant demand for registered nurses and computer systems analysts.

Seasonally Adjusted Data

Month Non-Farm Small (1-49) Mid-Sized (50+) Goods-producing Service Producing
Dec 2016 Actual 1,169,560   476,230  693,330 210,690 958,870
Jan (est) 1,175,104   478,434  696,670 212,456 962,648
Feb (est) 1,177,120   479,248  697,872 212,924 964,196
March (est) 1,175,534   478,604  696,930 212,610 962,924
Apr (est) 1,176,482   479,069  697,413 211,641 964,841
May (est) 1,172,905   477,697  695,208 209,786 963,119
June (est) 1,167,386   475,617  691,770 206,406 960,980

July 21, 2017

By