The April employment report gave back growth seen earlier in the year, and the retail industry — excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants — showed a decline of 4,900 jobs. The positive note was a 0.3 percent increase in average hourly earnings, which brought the year-over-year increase to 2.5 percent. The job market overall saw growth of 160,000 jobs, considerably softer than recent months and at the lower end of the last three years.
“Job readings consistent with a number of economic indicators point to modest and uneven growth in April,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Consumers’ apparent caution may reflect data which point to some loss in economic momentum, but seasonal adjustment factors may also explain the surprisingly muted growth.”
The clothing and sporting goods sectors each saw declines of 4,000 jobs. While there has been recent strength in housing-related retail spending, including building materials and furniture, these two categories showed a combined setback of 3,500 jobs. Revisions to the February and March reports resulted in the three-month average dropping from 52,000 job gains to 25,000.