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April 2011, Vol. 134, No. 4
Deep drop in retail trade employment during the 2007–09 recession
Michael D. McCall
Mike McCall is an economist in the Division of Current Employment Statistics, Office of Employment and Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics. E-mail: mccall. email@example.com
The 2007-09 recession had a more negative impact on employment in retail trade than did previous recessions; job losses accelerated during the second half of the 18-month recession
Retail trade lost 1 million jobs 1 during the recession which began December 2007 and ended June 2009. 2 The 6.7 percent decline in retail trade employment exceeded the rate of job loss for total nonfarm employment by 1.3 percentage points but was consistent with the 6.6 percent decline in private industry employment over the same period.
Employment in retail trade peaked in December 2007, coinciding with the start of the recession; the peak in total nonfarm employment took place a month later. Between the retail trade employment trough in July 2003 and its peak in December 2007, retail trade had added 697,000 jobs; thus, job losses during the recession more than offset job gains during the previous.
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1 The data on employment used in this article are from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, which is a monthly survey of approximately 140,000 nonfarm businesses and government agencies representing approximately 440,000 individual worksites. For more information on the program’s concepts and methodology, see “Technical Notes to Establishment Survey Data Published in Employment and Earnings,” www.bls.gov//web/empsit/cestn2.htm (visited Feb. 11, 2011). CES data are available at www.bls.gov/ces/ (visited Feb. 11, 2011). The CES data used in this article are seasonally adjusted.
2 Recessions are identified by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). According to the NBER, the most recent recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. The previous two recessions were from March 2001 to November 2001 and from July 1990 to March 1991. For a complete list of business cycle dates, please consult the NBER webpage at www.nber.org/cycles/cyclesmain.html (visited Nov. 2, 2010).
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