The headline payroll number from the US jobs report released Friday was disappointing, with only 98,000 jobs added to the economy, well short of the 180,000 expected by economists.
While the headline report fell short, for one industry it was even worse.
The retail industry lost 29,700 jobs in the month of March, following a 30,900 loss in February, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
The largest decline within the industry came from general merchandise stores, which include department stores and big box retailers. That segment saw a decline of 34,700 jobs in March.
Clothing stores also lost 5,800 jobs last month and health and personal care stores lost 4,100 jobs.
The rapid decline in retail employment comes as a wave of store closures has spread across the industry. Roughly 3,500 stores are expected to close over the next few months with retail giants like Macy’s and JCPenney shuttering locations.
According to Bespoke Investment Group, the two month decline in retail jobs is the largest since November and December 2009, when the country was dealing with the fallout from the financial crisis.