August 2016 Jobs Report: There’s Good and Bad News For Retail

The Labor Department reported today that the overall unemployment rate in the month of August held steady at 4.9 percent, despite a slight increase in nonfarm jobs.

Specifically, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 151,000 during the month, compared with an average monthly increase of 204,000 over the prior 12 months. And average hourly wages for all employees in private nonfarm jobs rose by 3 cents, to $25.73.

The biggest employment gains were seen in the food services industry, as well as social assistance and professional and technical services. The domestic manufacturing, wholesale trade and retail trade sectors, meanwhile, all remained relatively unchanged in August.

That fits with the month’s overall mix of good and bad news coming out of the retail industry.

On the negative side, Macy’s Inc. generated shock waves on Aug. 11 when it announced a plan to shutter 100 doors in the coming months.

Sweltering temperatures in parts of the country took a toll on consumer traffic. In particular, major chains such as Famous Footwear and Journeys reported sluggish sales for the all-important back-to-school season.

However, optimism does persist.

During August, companies including Foot Locker, Ugg and Christian Louboutin showed bullishness for brick-and-mortar by debuting new flagship stores in prime destinations. And DSW Inc. stated that it intends to open 21 new doors in the U.S. this fall. The first locations began opening in mid-August.

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