WASHINGTON — Department stores added 9,300 positions in February and specialty stores added 100, despite widespread losses across all sectors that caused U.S. payrolls to fall by 651,000 jobs.
The nation’s overall unemployment rate increased to 8.1 percent — its highest level in 25 years — from 7.6 percent the previous month.
The Labor Department said employment at department stores rose to 1.54 million positions and specialty stores employed 1.45 million in February. Department stores had slashed 8,600 jobs in January.
Despite the uptick in retail apparel jobs, the sector has contracted significantly in year-to-year comparisons. Specialty stores had 48,300 fewer positions in February than a year ago, and department store employment levels dropped 47,100 in the same period.
Particularly after the holiday season there’s “so much noise” in the retail jobs data that the one-month figures are less meaningful, said Charles McMillion, president and chief economist at MBG Information Services.
“With consumers on strike, the job losses [in the retail sector] and companies being lost are very likely to continue to accelerate,” McMillion said. “There is very little chance in my view that consumer spending is going to come back anytime this year.”
Since the recession started in December 2007, the U.S. economy has lost 4.4 million jobs. The Labor Department said 3 million people have been unemployed for six months or more.
Compared with February, revised employment figures show that overall job declines were even greater in January, when 655,000 jobs were lost, and in December, when the decrease was 681,000,
“The economy is in a tailspin and businesses are slashing at jobs at a breakneck pace, and there’s no reason to expect that this trend will change anytime soon,” said Richard Yamarone, director of economic research at Argus Research Corp.
Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, said, “The headline decline didn’t meet the worst fears, but that doesn’t make this report anything but awful. The labor market remains in free fall. The recession is deepening. There is no sign yet even that the rate of contraction is slowing.”
Textile mills, which produce apparel fabric, cut 2,800 positions to employ 131,200 last month compared with January. Textile product mills, which primarily manufacture home furnishing and industrial fabric, eliminated 2,400 positions to employ 136,200. Apparel manufacturers cut 900 jobs, bringing employment in the sector to 178,700.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty