Retail Adds Only 1,800 Jobs as U.S. Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Since 2000

The labor market saw modest growth in April, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting today that the economy added 164,000 jobs last month.

The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, the lowest since 2000, and marked the first time it had dropped under 4.1 percent in a half year. Average hourly wages rose by 4 cents last month to $26.84 and 2.6 percent year over year.

The number of unemployed people, at 6.3 million, also dipped over the month.

Despite the numbers, last month’s growth paled in comparison with the average monthly gain of 191,000 jobs over the past year. The professional and business services, manufacturing, health care and mining sectors saw the most growth, with retail trade — adding just 1,800 jobs — wholesale trade and other major industries seeing little change.

Employment rose by 7,800 in general merchandise stores, with a 1,100 drop in department stores. Although sporting goods stores and miscellaneous store retailers saw improvements of 1,700 and 2,000, respectively, the figures were offset by a 5,300 decline in clothing and clothing accessories stores.

The report comes after a new survey by employment firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas found that of the 36,081 jobs that companies announced plans to cut in April, 7,844 were in retail — a number that far surpassed all other industries, including the next-closest sectors of health and consumer.

The Labor Department revised numbers for February down from 326,000 to 324,000 and March up from 103,000 to 135,000 — a combined gain of 30,000 more than previously reported.

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