Retail Industry Has Positive Job Outlook

February 15

According to the Summer 2010 Retail Job Conditions Report, the Retail sector is moving in a positive direction following a challenging 2009. For 2010 retail sales have increased, consumer confidence is returning and retail employment is stabilizing. However, uncertainty still swirls around this critical employment sector, now employing 11% of the U.S. working population, as retailers tread cautiously and the economy continues to deliver mixed signs.

The outlook for the Retail sector in 2010 is positive, yet cautious. Annual sales are predicted to rise a minor 2.5% and employment expansion will be restricted until business conditions and consumer confidence are stronger.

The Retail sector's unemployment rate was 9.9% in June, down from its peak of 10.9% in January 2010. Retail sales are up nearly 2% from January 2010 while retail workers have remained steady in 2010 at nearly 14.5 million workers.

Retail online job tracking measures have shown improved performance in 2010. The Retail Monster Employment Indices reported 10-12% year-over-year expansion, despite seasonal slowdowns over the month of July. Online retail job postings rose in the double digits each month from March through June.

A steep 38% of job postings are for temporary positions, indicating employers' caution as they delay hiring for permanent positions.

Retail occupations are concentrated in sales roles.

The top two Retail categories with job postings are Sales/Retail/Business Development (35%) and Food Services/Hospitality (16%). The leading Retail sectors are Food Stores (45%), Miscellaneous Retail (23%) and Eating/Drinking Places (11%).

Both job postings and seekers desire the same two occupations: Retail Salespersons (44% of postings and 35% of seekers) and Store Management (24% of postings and 29% of seekers).

While job postings are distributed across the U.S., resumes are more concentrated. For example, only 6% of postings are in New York City compared to 10% of seekers.

A Retail occupation supply and demand analysis showed both Retail Salespersons and Store Management have an ample balance of job postings and seeker resumes. Note that Store Management, however, is nearing a talent surplus, meaning recruiters and employers might focus on retraining and other development programs to leverage the excess supply of workers. Retail employment conditions have contributed to heightened frustration for both recruiters and seekers.

Retail employers face an abundance of overqualified Retail candidates; companies might risk losing these candidates to more suitable jobs once the economy and jobs numbers expand. For example, 61% of job postings are for most High School educated candidates compared to the 36% of relevant seekers. Eighty-four percent of job postings are for candidates with less than five years of experience compared to the 46% of available seekers.

Forty percent of Retail survey respondents stated they expect a salary raise in the next twelve months, setting themselves up for disappointment if retailers cannot afford compensation increases.

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