Shopping for a New Job in 2016? Retail Posts Grow, Change

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The retail industry employs nearly 16 million people to sell food, clothing, home furnishings and general merchandise to consumers and will be hiring through 2024, officials predict.

Jobs in retail are growing, but that doesn’t mean a position is in store for you.

If you’re looking for a retail career in the new year, look in nonstore retail operations, suggest newly released statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nonstore retail jobs grew 27.6 percent from January 2005 to November 2015, while overall retail job growth saw just a 4.2 percent increase. In that period of nearly 11 years, the jobs growth rate for all private industries was 8.9 percent, more than double the retail industry.

Retailing isn’t shrinking, it’s just changing, says one expert.

“It’s not that people will stop going into the store to see what’s available,” Jim Holbrook, CEO of private brand company Daymon Worldwide, recently told Retailing Today. “It’s that they want choices and an improved experience. For example, we might see a service where you can preorder your staples, then pull up to the store and have your paper towels, diapers, laundry detergent and so on loaded into the back of your car while you go inside to pick out more interesting items.”

The retail industry employs nearly 16 million people, with an average annual wage of $23,000, to sell food, clothing, home furnishings and general merchandise to consumers, the BLS says. Overall, retail trade industry employment is expected to grow about 0.5 percent a year through 2024, BLS projects.

Nonstore retailers, which saw the largest growth rate in the past decade, include online shopping and auction sites, mail-order houses, vending machine operators and direct selling establishments.

Other retail job growth rates in the 2005-2015 period:

  • General merchandise stores: 10.7 percent
  • Health and personal care stores: 8.7 percent
  • Food and beverage stores: 8.4 percent
  • Gasoline stations: 4.6 percent

Retail industries with little or no gain in employment from 2005 to 2015, BLS says, were motor vehicle and parts dealers; sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores; building material and garden supply stores; and clothing and clothing accessories stores.

Retailers whose employment remained below January 2005 levels were furniture and home furnishing stores (−18.5 percent), electronics and appliance stores (−11.1 percent) and miscellaneous stores (−7.5 percent).

However, that doesn’t mean those fields aren’t hiring.

Employment in retail trade continued to trend up (+31,000 jobs) in November, the BLS said in its latest monthly jobs report. During the past 12 months, the industry added 284,000 jobs, in line with the jobs added during the previous 12 months. Motor vehicle and parts dealers added 9,000 jobs in November, most of which was concentrated in automobile dealers (+5,000 jobs). November’s employment growth coincides with annualized auto sales of more than 18 million — the highest November sales level since 2000.

So if you’re looking for a change in employment, retail jobs may be right for you. You just need to know where to look.

What are you looking for in the new year? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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