Pressured Retail Added Only 800 Jobs in August

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U.S. employers added just 156,000 jobs in August evidencing a slowdown in hiring, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday. The unemployment rate remained relatively healthy, edging up only slightly to 4.4 percent, from its 16-year low of 4.3 percent, reached in April. (After declining earlier in the year, the unemployment rate has been either 4.3 or 4.4 percent since April, according to the Labor Department.)

The monthly jobs report also indicated that things remained pressured in the retail — after shedding 1,900 jobs in July, the industry gained just 800 jobs in August.

The past year has seen fashion retail struggle to emerge from a rough patch — stoked by an overabundance of brick-and-mortar stores amid consumer shifts toward digital and experiential spending.

In the most recent quarter, department stores Macy’s, Nordstrom and Kohl’s posted better than expected earnings, showing some turnaround potential — although investors continue to display caution when it comes to retail stocks.

The latest data may only add to the angst.

Job growth at department stores and clothing-and-accessories retailers tumbled in August, losing around 600 and 2,400 jobs respectively.

Apparel-and-accessories stores had already gotten rid of about 10,000 positions in July, while d-stores has actually added 3,000 posts in July.

Hurricane Harvey, which battered parts of Houston over the weekend, had no discernible effect on the employment and unemployment data for August, the Labor Department said.

The government also announced today that it revised down the estimate of job growth in June and July by a combined 41,000. Specifically, June was revised from 231,000 to 210,000 jobs added, while July 2017 was revised from 209,000 to 189,000 jobs added.