JC Penney

Retail is still shedding jobs even as the employment picture in other industries improves slightly.

Apparel and accessories specialty stores in the U.S. shed 5,800 jobs over March after losing 5,500 in February, leaving 1.35 million in the sector, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

General merchandise stores fared worse, giving up 34,700 jobs during the month, including 12,600 positions cut from struggling department stores, many of which are closing stores.

Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Sears are all set to shutter hundreds of stores, while specialty mall retailers like BCBG, Wet Seal and The Limited have moved into bankruptcy.

Even Ralph Lauren is set to close stores, including its Polo brand flagship in New York, and Rue21 could be the next mall store to go bankrupt.

The retail sector on the whole shrunk by 29,700 jobs in March (offset by slight gains in grocery, furniture and certain other retail sectors) and employment in the sector now sits at 15.85 million jobs, compared to 15.88 million jobs in February.

Meanwhile, overall unemployment inched down during the month to 4.5 percent from 4.7 percent in February with a gain of 98,000 non-farm jobs.

But economists were expecting about 180,000 new jobs during the month and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.2 percent in morning trading and retail stocks were hit even harder, falling 0.3 percent.

Among the fashion industry stocks showing declines were Sears Holdings Corp., down 3 percent to $11.30; Under Armour Inc., 3 percent to $18.48; Lands’ End Inc., 0.7 percent to $20.80; TJX Cos. Inc., 0.7 percent to $76.26, and Ralph Lauren Corp., 0.6 percent to $80.23.

For More Retail News, See:

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