WASHINGTON — The retail sector lost 6,600 positions last month and U.S. textile and apparel producers shed a seasonally adjusted 2,700 jobs as overall employment grew by 121,000, which was below economists' expectations, but the biggest gain since March.
Economists projected an overall increase of at least 170,000 jobs to follow up on the 92,000 positions added in May and the 112,000 rise in April. The unemployment rate held at 4.6 percent, according to the Labor Department's monthly jobs survey.
"We've had three months in a row of soft job numbers," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's, who anticipates reduced growth in the second half of the year. "We're starting to see that slowdown," he said, after 17 consecutive interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve.
Wyss noted that the employment results were in keeping with the mild same-store sales gains retailers posted for June.
The job figures for fashion retailers were mixed, with apparel and accessories stores adding 5,100 positions to employ a total of 1.4 million, as department stores cut head counts by 7,700 to 1.6 million. Additional losses came in other retail sectors. Part of the drop at department stores might have resulted from the integration of May Department Stores into Federated Department Stores and the related divestitures.
Continuing to battle lower-priced imports, textile mills cut payrolls by 2,400 to 197,800 in June, as textile product mills trimmed 200 jobs to employ 167,800 and apparel producers eliminated 100 positions for a head count of 249,900.
Hourly wages rose 3.9 percent in June compared with a year ago, sparking some concern that the Federal Reserve will again raise interest rates when it meets on Aug. 8.
Investors are sensitive to any signs of slowing growth or increased inflation. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 134.63 points on Friday to close at 11,090.67, making for an overall drop of 0.5 percent last week.
"If you're in the stock market, you would, I think, be a little concerned about the fact that the employment numbers are suggesting slow growth, and if there's slower growth in the economy, that probably means there's going to be slower growth in earnings," said Global Insight U.S. economist Nigel Gault.
“I see things on the hanger and I’m, like, ‘I never knew that color worked on me.’ It’s things you necessarily wouldn’t choose to wear, but once you put them on, you see why Janie is who Janie is." — Lily Collins on working with former "Mad Men" costume designer, Janie Bryant on creating looks for her role as Celia Brady's in Amazon series, "The Last Tycoon." 📸@jilliansollazzo #wwdeye
EXCLUSIVE: Sarah Rutson has been tapped to Build New American Fashion Group. The parent of Joie, Equipment and Current/Elliott hired the merchant to rev up its brands and expand its portfolio into designer, beauty and lifestyle categories. Read more on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion
Michael Kors' $1.3B Jimmy Choo deal has the company squaring off with Coach Inc. as both seek to build American powerhouses. Coach bought Stuart Weitzman in 2015 and Kate Spade just two weeks ago, but Michael Kors' acquisition may be putting pressure on its rival in the new push for scale. #wwdnews (📷: George Chinsee)
Meet actress Lucy Boynton, who plays opposite Naomi Watts in the recently released Netflix series "Gypsy." Boynton stopped by WWD to talk about her upcoming projects and her nomadic lifestyle. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)