Retail Jobs Saw a Small Boost in November, but the Industry Still Struggles

This photo shows an empty mall store front in Crystal River, Fla.
The Crystal River Mall in Crystal River, Fla., has many empty anchor stores due to the decline of retail. The November employment numbers show more turmoil in the embattled retail sector. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Despite a glowing jobs report touting a strong U.S. economy, the latest employment numbers for November show more turmoil in the embattled retail sector.

Sure, brick-and-mortar stores added 19,800 new jobs between October and November, but when you look at the long-term trend, it’s a bit gloomier. In fact, these retailers actually shed 63,600 jobs when you compare the same month last year.

It’s no surprise, considering the hundreds of store closings that several big-name retailers have announced this year and experts predicting the loss of 30% of the 1,000-plus U.S. malls in the next five years.

Plus, it seems that November has lost some of its luster, since Black Friday is totally not a thing anymore.

“Consumers no longer have to wait until November to kick off holiday shopping,” said a PricewaterhouseCoopers report on holiday shopping.

But if you dig deeper into the numbers, the Amazon Effect remains in full force.

Employment at nonstore retailers, like Amazon, swelled by 3.8% this November compared with 2016. Meanwhile, warehousing and transportation jobs, like those at Amazon, grew 1.8% this year.

Still, the Amazon Effect was just not enough to offset the 22,700 job losses in the overall retail sector as 2017 comes to a close.

As Traditional Retail Jobs Disappear, Where Do Workers Turn?

After she lost her job at Kmart in Crystal River, Florida, in March, Christine Capra spent countless hours filling out online application on her public library’s computers. She dipped into savings after her unemployment benefits ran out in August.

“I felt like someone ripped the carpet right out from under me,” Capra said.

She’s not alone, and things only seem to be getting more complicated for these former retail workers.

In a study released last month, Indeed mined data from tens of millions of resumes uploaded to its site to determine the next step for ex-retail employees.

While the Amazon Effect does leave an opening for these workers, the skills required in e-commerce aren’t a perfect match, according to the Indeed analysis. Many online retailing and storage and warehousing jobs require a college degree, and proficiency in specified software is also in high demand in those two sectors.

The best fit for retail workers tends to be the restaurant industry, where many of the customer service skills overlap. But those jobs pay $14 on average.

The most common jobs brick-and-mortar workers search on Indeed are customer service representative, sales representatives, and receptionists and information clerks, among others.

“To be sure, it’s by no means clear that brick-and-mortar retail is done for,” said Indeed economist Andrew Flowers said in the study. “But, for brick-and-mortar retail workers, the road ahead looks bumpy and uncertain.”

Here’s What You Can Do If Your Retail Job Is Next

To us, you’re way more than some statistic.

If you happen to find yourself out of work thanks to the Retail Apocalypse, The Penny Hoarder Jobs Page on Facebook can be a great resource for your next move.

You can also check out these other ways to map out your strategy.

Now is a good time to consider other retailers who may actually be hiring this season — like Macy’s! These jobs are not long-term gigs,  but they will at least get you through the holidays.

And if you’re just tired of the grind of a traditional job, we’ve got 32 legit ways to make money from home for you.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder.

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