Retail keeps bleeding jobs

Friday’s jobs report showed that employment in the retail industry continued to shrink.

Retail trade lost 6,100 jobs overall, according to data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

The majority of those jobs came from department stores and “other general merchandise” stores, but food and beverage stores also saw a large drop-off.

However, non-store retailers (i.e. online retailers) saw employment rise by 2,900.

The US administration has focused its rhetoric on coal and manufacturing jobs. However, it’s notable that the number of workers in general merchandise stores who have lost their jobs since October is greater than the entire number of people employed in the US coal industry.

The loss of retail jobs comes at a time when physical stores have taken a hit as consumers increasingly shift to online shopping. Up to 3,500 stores are forecast to close this year.

Moreover, a recent study found that a large chunk of retail jobs “likely will be automated” in the coming years, which could leave a portion of the retail workforce out of a job. This has already started happening: Panera Bread, a fast-casual restaurant chain, has started replacing human cashiers with kiosks.

The overall US economy added 138,000 jobs in May, below expectations of 182,000.

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