The Weekly Briefing - April 12th, 2021

The Weekly Briefing – April 12th, 2021

In This Week’s Brief:

  • U.S. Economy Receives a JOLT of Hiring
  • Retail More Durable Than Is Commonly Understood, Although Trends Vary By Subsector

U.S Economy Receives a JOLT of Hiring

Coming off the heels of a positive jobs report, in which the U.S. economy added 916,000 new jobs in March, the number of job openings continues to climb as demand surges for American workers. According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings edged up to 7.4 million in February, an increase of 268,000, erasing many of the losses from the pandemic. The recent upswing in job postings is noteworthy when compared to the Global Financial Crisis (“GFC”), when postings took over six years to recover.

Several sectors saw high levels of job openings. Health care and social assistance increased substantially by 233,000 postings from January to February as vaccines continued to roll out. The hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector industry added 160,000 postings, most of which were jobs openings in accommodation and food services. Opportunities were also greater for jobs that make and move goods such as trade, transportation and utilities, which registered a rise of 56,000 in total postings.

While the economy continues to improve, millions of Americans remain out of work. The labor market is short 8.4 million jobs relative to pre-pandemic figures, still above the 7.3 million jobs lost during the GFC.

Number of U.S. Job Openings Since January 2020

Retail More Durable Than Is Commonly Understood, Although Trends Vary By Subsector

Many retail categories have demonstrated durability over the past year despite pandemic-related challenges that have forced many businesses to temporarily close or alter operations. Employment levels in the sector have recovered to 1.6% below pre-pandemic levels compared to an overall decline of 5.5% in U.S. nonfarm payrolls. Total retail sales in February were up 9.5% YOY.

Building material suppliers, nonstore retailers, and food and beverage stores are posting some of the strongest sales figures as consumers have focused on home improvement, online shopping, and dining at home during the pandemic. All three subsectors have increased staffing levels over the past year.

A few retail categories, however, continue to experience meaningful distress. For example, clothing & apparel retailers and electronics stores continue to lag pre-pandemic levels in monthly sales, and both subsectors have shed jobs at an above-trend pace.

Retail Jobs & Sales by Sector (Organized by Pre-Pandemic Job Count)

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