The retail sector lost 34,000 jobs in the month of March, with 21,000 of those in department, chain, and discount stores. Total retail employment in the U.S. is now 14.7 million. Apparel specialty store employment was stable. About 32,000 jobs disappeared in general merchandise stores.
On a 12-month smoothed basis, retail employment rose .2%, compared to 1.6% for the overall economy. The department store sector drop was 2.6%, compared to a .6% increase for specialty stores. For the last three months, retail job growth has underperformed the rest of the economy as store operators cust positions to reduce operating costs.