Specialty fashion retailers delivered more pink slips last month as department stores managed to add some workers and e-commerce companies continued to bulk up.
Apparel and accessories specialty stores shed 10,000 jobs between June and July to employ 1.33 million as department stores added 2,400 workers, bringing their payrolls to 1.28 million, according to government statistics.
Non-store retailers, including e-commerce companies and catalogue firms, boosted employment by 1,400 overall, to 567,200.
Those figures only tell a part of the story and the National Retail Federation has been working to get a broader look at retail employment and count people who work in the stores as well as on the e-commerce side and in other functions.
WWD reported this week that the NRF is in a dialogue with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, urging the agency to take a more comprehensive view in retail.
The NRF argues that the retail industry has added 1.5 million workers since 2010.
“Government data surrounding retail can be very misleading,” the trade group said this week. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics, specifically in retail trade, does not account for all the jobs at retail companies, especially all of the e-commerce-specific roles that typically fall into software developers, delivery, warehousing, storage, designers, accountants, marketing, advertising, communications, among others. At the end of the day, a job in e-commerce such as Amazon’s warehouses is still a job within the retail industry.”
Amazon, which has become something of an obsession in retail, has been ramping up in particular, providing a contrast to retailers, who have cut payrolls as they close stores to “right-size” operations. Amazon said in January that it would add 100,000 full-time U.S. workers over 18 months. On Wednesday, the company held its first “jobs day” at 10 fulfillment centers, offering thousands of openings.
The overall employment picture continued to be promising, with U.S. businesses adding 209,000 workers to payrolls and sending the unemployment rate down to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent, although many argue the official rate undercounts many people who want to work.
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