Market Basket, a private grocery chain in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine that saw thousands of workers protest after the firing of its CEO in June, showed up in the jobs report.
In July, after employees staged protests in favour of ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, thousands of employees were canned.
Demoulas took back the CEO role in late August, and said that “all associates are welcome back,” but this disruption still put a dent in the August report.
The number of workers in the retail industry fell by 8,000 in August, owing partly to a 17,000 worker decline in food and beverage stores. In her commentary accompanying the report, BLS Commissioner Erica Groshen said the drop in workers at food and beverage stores was, “impacted by employment disruptions at a grocery store chain in New England.”
Groshen noted that elsewhere in the retail sector, auto dealer employment grew by 5,000. In August, auto sales rose to their fastest pace since 2006.
It’s a big country with a lot of workers, and while the employee protests at Market Basket may have seemed like a regional story, its impact on the jobs report shows this story clearly had national reach.
This chart from the BLS shows the drop in food and beverage employees in August. Look for this to rebound in September.