The National Retail Federation today issued the following statements from NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay and Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz in response to the March jobs report:
"After a long, harsh winter that put many retailers at a disadvantage in terms of inventory control and staffing their stores, merchants are eager to move forward with their spring hiring and operational plans," Shay said. "Though we can report relatively positive figures for March, there's still noticeable slack in the labor market; in order to see momentum in economic growth through 2014, it's imperative our leaders in Washington put job creation and the economy back at the top of their agenda, giving businesses the confidence they need to grow and invest."
In a recent consumer survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, more than half (51.9 percent) of Americans surveyed agreed the U.S. economy should be a top priority for Congress in 2014; 46 percent said job creation/unemployment should be a top priority.
NRF calculated month-to-month retail employment increased 18,200 in March and 229,000 year-over-year. The increase is consistent with recent positive economic indicator reports and bodes well for income and consumer confidence as the industry enters into the busy spring selling season, according to NRF.
"We're encouraged by the progression seen in March related to hiring and other indicators that point to overall economic growth," Kleinhenz said. "First quarter results have been less than stellar thus far thanks to a variety of factors, including unusually bad weather in almost every part of the country. As the year progresses, I expect the job market to strengthen, which will put consumers in a position to feel even more confident about spending, bolstering the sub-par economic recovery."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary showed that March total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 192,000, short of analysts' expectations. The unemployment rate remained at 6.7 percent.