Washington—Everyone it seems had been expecting the worst: economists, analysts, retailers etc. Thanks to the gridlock in Washington, the government shutdown and a near national default, job numbers, as well as retail sales, were expected to take a dive.
Well, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation report 204,000 jobs were actually added in October. Unemployment was calculated at 7.3%, a slight increase likely because federal workers furloughed by the shutdown were counted as unemployed.
But the retail industry, the nation’s largest employer, job gains totaled 37,600 in October, and 295,000 year-over-year, a 2.4 percent increase over 2012, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported today. Job gains were seen in every retail sector with the exception of clothing and clothing stores, which witnessed a contraction of 12,500 positions in September.
‘Consumer Confidence to Improve’
“Today’s report puts the U.S. economy in a very positive light heading into the fall and winter seasons,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The government shutdown had little to no impact on the improving employment situation, which is steadily improving along with GDP. While retailers and businesses are hiring, consumers remain cautious, but we remain steadfast in our belief that consumer confidence and spending will improve.”
In its annual holiday sales and employment forecast, NRF predicted that retailers would see a 3.9% sales increase this holiday season, and hire an additional 720,000 to 780,000 employees.
“The latest jobs report, which came in stronger than anticipated, provides some positive indication that the economy and employment situation are steadily improving,” Matthew Shay, NRF president/ceo, said. “The timing couldn’t be better for retailers and consumers, who are busy preparing for the holiday shopping season.”
Still, the NRF, which was very critical of Congress during the 16-day shutdown, cautioned that the temporary bipartisan solution needs to be followed up with a permanent one.
“It is now incumbent upon policymakers to address our pending fiscal and budgetary questions sooner rather than later. We cannot afford to repeat the same mistakes, which led us to a government shutdown and to the brink of default,” Shay added.