Monday, December 3, 2012

The Health of Retail Trade Employment

First, let's go with what we are told.

BLS: Retail Sales Workers: Job Outlook

Employment of retail salespersons has traditionally grown with the overall economy, and this trend is expected to continue. Population growth will increase retail sales and demand for these workers.

Although consumers are increasing their online retail shopping, they will continue to do most of their retail shopping in stores. Retail salespersons will be needed in stores to help customers and complete sales.

Now that we've read that and have no doubt turned optimistic, let's go look at some actual charts to back the theory.

Click to enlarge.

Oh, yeah. That's looking real good long-term. We're not done yet though. Let's keep digging.

Click to enlarge.

When it comes to hours worked per week, we never did bounce back from the 1970s.

Click to enlarge.

Did I mention that we never did bounce back from the 1970s? Further, it would seem we've recently been attempting to duplicate the effect with high real oil prices and the added bonus of increased retail automation.

As seen in the following link, we apparently have some of the most educated retail workers in the history of our country. And yet, real hourly earnings have declined and continue to do so. If this isn't an illusion of prosperity then I don't know what is.

July 08, 2012
College Grads Find Retail a (Meager) Route to Job Market

Students with advanced degrees have been unable to find jobs consistent with their skill set, leading to a heavy influx of overqualified young people in retail positions that typically require no more than a high school diploma.

Source Data:
BLS: Current Employment Statistics
St. Louis Fed: CPI


Rob Dawg said...

Three big words. Online market share.
Two words. Self checkout.
One acronym. RFID.
Zero job growth.
Minus entry level jobs.

My captcha word is rreslow.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Rob Dawg,

Three, two, one, zero, and then minus seems about right to me. Sigh.

Employment of retail salespersons has traditionally grown with the overall economy...

The same was once said of manufacturing employment and before that agriculture employment.

Stagflationary Mark said...

From the "College Grads" link within the post...

She notes that one field is relatively safe: “In retail, you’ll always have a job.”

Good luck on that theory. Sigh.

dearieme said...

I understand that Obamacare is going to drive lots of firms to reduce workers' weekly hours below 30. Next year you can show us the resulting kink.

TJandTheBear said...

Retail CRE still massively overbuilt in the USA on a per-capita square foot basis. I'm NOT optimistic.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Yeah, I think we'll see the impact over time. And when I say over time, I don't mean overtime. Sigh.

Stagflationary Mark said...


November 28, 2012
How much retail space is empty because of e-commerce?

Here’s a post-Cyber Monday wake-up call: E-commerce is responsible for nearly 160 million feet of lost absorption of retail space.

The wake-up call is quite the fireworks show.

“Even though e-commerce is getting all this hype and has a super fast growth rate, it’s still a relatively small portion overall,” he said, noting that e-commerce represented only 6.7 percent of all retail sales in the third quarter of 2012, excluding automobile and gasoline purchases.

I guess we're not supposed to factor in what a super fast growth rate could potentially do in a few more decades.

fried said...

Retail is no place for highly educated kids with student loan debt. Not at near-minimum wage. Bought my tree on Sunday at Stew Leonard's a huge supermarket in CT.
Salesman was very young and extra helpful After I thanked him he quietly asked me to give his name to customer service...clearly hoping to stay on after Christmas. I did so, but what a waste for all of us...he was intelligent, educated and helpful.

Angry Saver said...

Education is the key!

Just like housing and stocks!

Stagflationary Mark said...


Retail is no place for highly educated kids with student loan debt.

My sentiments exactly. Sigh.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Angry Saver,

Education, Housing, Stocks, and Food

The four gluts of long-term prosperity and/or the apocalypse!

We'll be fine as long as we can keep the world's population growing exponentially well into the distant future. Sigh.

Gallows sarcasm.