WASHINGTON — Retail employment levels remained lean in September as the U.S. economy continued to shed jobs, putting a crimp into hopes for the holiday season.

Department stores cut 2,200 jobs in September to employ 1.53 million, after adding jobs in August for the first time since May, the Labor Department said Friday. Specialty stores added 1,600 jobs to employ 1.41 million, but didn’t erase a significant drop in August, when 9,500 specialty store jobs were eliminated.

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