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Job declines continue in spite of other positive economic signs

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Arlington, Va. The U.S. Department of Labor released employment data on Friday indicating that the pace of job losses has slowed tremendously compared with a year ago.

However, according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), job creation remains elusive as lawmakers pursue legislation that would harm, not help, employers’ efforts to retain and add jobs.

According to the report, the U.S. economy shed 85,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate remained steady at 10%. Over the same period, the retail industry shed 10,200 jobs, the smallest decline since the start of the recession.

“The most effective consumer stimulus continues to be a steady job,” said RILA president Sandy Kennedy. “Today’s report suggests we are entering 2010 in better shape than we entered 2009, but the economy remains fragile and job creation continues to be elusive. Congress must focus on measures that will increase consumer confidence and boost spending, and avoid actions that would impose costly burdens on employers as they seek to create and retain jobs.”

RILA has spoken out strongly against House and Senate healthcare reform legislation that would undermine the quality and affordability of healthcare insurance RILA members offer their employees and stifle retail job growth for years to come.

Other recent data, including December retail sales figures released Thursday by a number of U.S. retailers, indicate that the U.S. economy is stabilizing and turning toward recovery. New claims for unemployment insurance have declined in recent months, and consumer spending and incomes both rose in November.

On the business side, orders for durable goods outside the volatile transportation sector moved sharply higher in November, and shipments of capital goods were up in both October and November. Forward-looking surveys of purchasing managers point to expansion in services and especially in manufacturing, and the drawdown in inventories during the recession has slowed considerably.

As a result, the U.S. economy looks to have expanded in the last quarter of 2009 and is set for further expansion in the first three months of 2009.

As a result, the U.S. economy looks to have expanded in the last quarter of 2009 and is set for further expansion in the first three months of 2010.

“Today’s job report shows that the labor market remains weak despite the return of economic growth,” said Donald B. Marron, visiting professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and RILA outside economist. “Layoffs have slowed substantially, but employers are still putting off hiring. Other recent data suggest that the economy is recovering, but it will take time before that positive momentum translates into new jobs.”

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