The Retail Industry Is Shedding Jobs — With One Major Exception

Boxes making their way down the conveyor belt on their way to customers.
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Call it the Amazon Effect.

The behemoth online retailer’s influence on U.S. jobs surfaced in a big way in the latest jobs report posted Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mainly, it likely kept the beleaguered retail industry from slipping into negative job growth at a time when the rest of the economy is humming right along with a 4.3% unemployment rate.

Overall, jobs in the retail industry grew 0.2% in July compared to the same month in 2016. Meanwhile, employment at non-store retailers (ahem, Amazon) jumped 5.2% — that’s a heck of lot more than the overall private employment gain of 1.6% in July.

Amazon delivered in other parts of the economy as well. Warehousing and storage jobs catapulted upwards 3.7% last month.

Amazon Has Been on a Major Hiring Binge This Year

The fact that Amazon is killing the hiring game shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve been keeping up with our jobs coverage.

This month alone, the company aims to add 50,000 part- and full-time employees at 10 fulfillment centers after holding its Jobs Day event earlier this week. That follows Amazon’s promise to hire 100,000 people this year.

And it’s not just warehouse jobs, Amazon is also hiring tons of seasonal customer service associates to help out with holiday orders.

Good for Amazon, But How’s the Rest of the Retail Sector Doing?

Now, Amazon may have been the Atlas to the rest of the country’s retail scene last month, but for the rest of the industry, things were pretty dire.

You had some slight winners in job growth, such as car parts dealers, which added 35,900 over the last year. And gas stations nearly grew with the rest of the economy with an additional 11,800 new jobs.

Still, as you can see in that nifty chart, most retail stores have shed jobs over the last year.

The biggest loser? Electronics and appliance retailers, with their workforce shrinking just under 4% from July 2016 through last month.

Yikes. But not surprising considering Radioshack’s massive corporate auction earlier this year (admit it, you bid on the gold album of trucker songs).

Sporting goods stores and clothing stores didn’t fare well either. And nearly 3,000 well-known retail stores are slated to close this year.

So what should you do if you end up on the unfortunate end of this trend?

First, know your rights if your employer files for bankruptcy. Accrued vacation or sick leave pay might be coming your way, and retirement benefits should be fine.

Next, find a side gig until you’re able to land another full-time job. I hear Amazon is hiring…

Amazon not the employer you’re looking for? Check out The Penny Hoarder Jobs page on Facebook for all sorts (get it? “Sort,” like at a fulfillment center?) of postings.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

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