91,000 Jobs Lost in Retail: Have We Hit the Bottom Yet?

Employers continue to cut millions of jobs as they cope with sagging sales. A half-million jobs were slashed in November with retail shedding 91,000 jobs. The holiday season is typically a time when retailers add on seasonal workers, but recent figures from the U.S. Department of Labor's November report indicate monthly job losses are the highest in 34 years.

The recent Labor Department's report, which was released on December 5, indicates the nation's unemployment rate is 6.7 percent, up from last month's reported 6.5 percent. Additionally, November marks the highest number of job losses in 34 years, with 533,000 jobs lost. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, which was formally announced by The National Bureau of Economic Research this past Friday, the number of unemployed has increased by 2.7 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 1.7 percent.

Prior to this month's dramatic loss of jobs, September was the worst month with 403,000 jobs lost, while October shed 320,000.

Job losses were widespread across almost all major industry sectors in November. However, employment in the retail industry was hit the hard with 91,000 job losses. A large portion of these occurred in the auto industry, which reported slashing 24,000 jobs. Clothing and accessories retailers cut 18,000 jobs. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores lost 11,000 jobs. And furniture and home furnishing stores posted a loss of 10,000 jobs. Seasonal hiring for the holidays was also below normal forNovember.

Last week, bankrupt U.S. electronics retailer Tweeter fired 650 employees. The chain employed about 1,150 workers when it filed for bankruptcy in November, and many had been promised bonuses and other compensation to stay with the company through its store closings. Disgruntled employees hacked Tweeter's corporate Web site, saying the company's managers had delivered false promises and lied to employees.

Job Losses Across Industries
Professional and business services cut the most jobs in November - 101,000. Manufacturing followed retailing by posting a loss of 85,000 jobs. Construction lost 82,000 jobs and leisure and hospitality slashed 76,000.

Financial institutions which posted a decline of 32,000 jobs and the transportation and warehousing sector lost 32,000 jobs in November. The health care sector was the only industry to post positive growth in November adding 34,000 jobs.

Government Weighs in on Job Crisis
President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office on January 20, 2008, has called for a massive economic recovery bill to generate 2.5 million jobs over his first two years in office. However, on this past Sunday's Meet the Press, Obama cautioned, "the economy will likely get worse before it gets better."

Economists predict that the unemployment rate could soar as high as 10 percent before skittish employers begin hiring again.

For additional stories on job losses in retail, see:

Retailing Loses 38,100 Jobs

Job Losses in Retail Hit 40,000
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