JOBLESS RATE PEAKS IN NOV.
Byline: Kristi Ellis
WASHINGTON — Job losses cut across all segments of the retail and manufacturing industries in November, while the nation’s unemployment rate reached a six-year high.
Department store employment was particularly hard hit, plunging a seasonally adjusted 15,000 jobs in November, despite the holiday season, which is traditionally a peak employment period. Combined with the Labor Department’s revised numbers from October, department stores have lost a total of 45,000 jobs in the past two months and employment stands at 2.405 million.
Carl Steidtman, chief economist at Deloitte Research, said part of the decline in department store payrolls is attributable to the decline in temporary holiday employment combined with layoffs of permanent staff.
“Most retailers have gone into the holidays with low expectations and these numbers are starting to reflect their outlook,” Steidtman said.
Employment at apparel and accessories stores, which declined by 14,000 jobs in October, further declined by 10,000 in November, to 1.2 million.
Meanwhile, textile and apparel manufacturing lost a combined 17,000 seasonally adjusted jobs in November.
Apparel manufacturing jobs plunged by 11,000 in November, to 532,000, and dropped even further — by 79,000 — against October 2000. The textile industry lost another 6,000 jobs from its payrolls in November and stood at 447,000. Compared with November 2000, the industry lost 67,000.
“This is just a continuation of four years of near depression conditions for the textile and apparel industries,” said Charles McMillion, an economist for MBG Information Services, who said he expects to see “sharp” job losses in the retail sector in January and February.
“Retailers are hanging on for Christmas,” he said. “After it is over, I expect to see smaller retailers go out of business.”
In the overall economy, the unemployment rate, which rose from 5.4 percent in October to 5.7 percent in November, represented the highest jobless rate since a matching 5.7 percent in August 1995. The Labor Department said another 331,000 nonfarm jobs were lost last month.
In apparel, the average workweek in November was 36.6 hours, about equal to that in October. The average workweek in November in textiles also showed little change from October and stood at 39.7.
November marked the fifth consecutive month that was shorter than a 40-hour workweek. The last time the workweek was under 40 hours for an extended period of time was during the 1990-1991 recession, according to Dave Link, chief economist at the American Textile Manufacturers Institute.
Textile mill shipments in October, the most recent month available, reversing a 14-month trend of declines, showed a slight gain of 0.9 percent, to $3.764 billion, while apparel shipments edged up 1.7 percent, to $5.58 billion.