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Unemployment dips to 4.5%, but retail jobs continue to take a hit


The country’s unemployment rate fell to 4.5% in March, however a volatile retail landscape continues to negatively impact merchant’s payrolls.

The U.S. economy added 98,000 jobs last month, versus 180,000 expected by economists surveyed by Reuters.

However, the number of unemployed persons declined by 326,000 to 7.2 million.

The number of persons unemployed less than 5 weeks also declined, by 232,000 to 2.3 million. The number of long-term unemployed was little-changed, though that number has dropped by 526,000 over the past 12 months.

Most of the gains occurred in professional and business services (56,000, of which 17,000 were related to services to buildings and dwellings), in healthcare (14,000) and in mining (11,000).

Meanwhile, retail trade lost 29,700 jobs — the industry’s second straight month of job losses. Employment at clothing retailers declined by 5,800 jobs last month, and general merchandise stores shed 34,700 positions, according to the report.

As shoppers trade mall visits for online shopping, chains from department store chains to specialty brands are feeling the pinch. It is also forcing brands including J.C. Penney, Macy’s, and most recently, Payless ShoeSource and Bebe Stores, among others, to layoff associates as they scale back their brick-and-mortar operations.

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