March 2014

Nonfarm employment continued its road to recovery in 2013


 Table 2. Percent changes in select economic indicators, 2011–2013
Select indicators(1)12-month percent change(2)2013 level(3)

Real Gross Domestic Product$16.0 trillion

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers

Retail sales(4)$382.6 billion

Disposable personal income (2009 chained dollars)$11.7 trillion

Consumer Confidence Index


New home construction starts

28.841.66.61.0 million

Housing Market Index

Residential construction spending

8.420.018.3$353 billion

Real federal consumption expenditures and gross investment

-2.6-1.4-5.1$1.1 trillion

Real state and local consumption expenditures and gross investment

-3.6-.7-.2$1.7 trillion

Real personal health care expenditures$1.8 trillion

(1) All data except for retail sales and indexes are seasonally adjusted annualized rates.

(2) Percent changes in real gross domestic product, disposable personal income, and government real consumption expenditures and gross investment, and real personal health expenditures are annual average percent changes as calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Percent changes in Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers, retail sales, new home construction starts, and residential construction spending are December-to-December percent changes. Changes in the Consumer Confidence Index and the Housing Market Index are December-to-December 12-month net changes.

(3) 2013 level is the December 2013 or 4th quarter 2013 estimate of the selected indicator, depending on whether the indicator is released on a monthly or quarterly basis.

(4) Retail sales exclude food service and drinking places.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census Bureau, The Conference Board, National Association of Home Builders, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with author's calculations.

Leisure and hospitality employment increased by 454,000 in 2013, a gain similar to that in the prior year. By December 2013, employment in the industry stood 887,000 above its December 2007 prerecession peak. During its employment recovery and expansion that began in January 2010, food services and drinking places contributed approximately 80 percent of the employment gain in leisure and hospitality.

In 2013, food services added 341,000 jobs. Full-service and limited-service restaurants have been the two major drivers of job growth within food services and drinking places. The job gains in these industries in 2013 coincided with strong sales in food services and drinking places over the same 12-month period (see figure 5).5

Arts, entertainment, and recreation, adding 86,000 jobs in 2013, also contributed to the leisure and hospitality employment gain over the year. While the increase was smaller in magnitude than the annual job gain in food service, it represented relatively faster growth at 4.3 percent—an acceleration over the prior year’s 3.1-percent growth. Amusements, gambling, and recreation contributed 63,000 jobs to the 2013 increase.

Retail trade added 345,000 jobs over the year̶ —more than double the jobs added in 2012. By December 2013, the industry had recovered 75 percent, or 937,000 of the 1.3 million jobs lost between November 2007 and December 2009. Similar to employment and sales in food services and drinking places, employment trends in retail trade coincide with sales growth in the industry (see figure 6).6

Within retail trade, food and beverage stores contributed the largest number of jobs over the year, 86,000. As 2013 came to a close, employment in food and beverage stores had expanded to 101,000 above its March 2008 peak. Furthermore, job growth in food stores accelerated each year since employment started to recover in 2010.

General merchandise stores added 64,000 jobs in 2013, following a loss of 83,000 jobs in 2012.

Although their increases were smaller in magnitude, motor vehicle and parts dealers; building material and garden supply stores; and sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores saw stronger employment gains in 2013, adding 64,000, 39,000, and 35,000 jobs, respectively. The employment increase in motor vehicles and parts dealers coincided with a strong 6.5-percent over-the-year sales increase in motor vehicles and parts dealers.7

Clothing and clothing accessories stores and miscellaneous store retailers both trended downward in 2013.

Construction employment recovery continues

During the collapse of the housing market, construction was the first industry sector to see sustained job losses leading into the 2007–2009 recession. Employment in the industry peaked in April 2006 and then declined until January 2011. Construction lost 2.3 million jobs during this period—nearly one-third of its total employment. Employment growth in construction increased by 2.7 percent in 2013, compared with increases of 2.0 percent in 2012 and 2.6 percent in 2011.

From January 2011 through December 2013, construction regained 444,000 or 19.4 percent of the jobs it had lost during the industry’s employment downturn. Over half of the recovered jobs were among specialty trade contractors and were split nearly evenly between the residential and nonresidential components.


5 Monthly retail sales & seasonal factors 1992–present (adjusted), (U.S. Census Bureau, February 13, 2014),

6 Monthly retail sales & seasonal factors 1992–present (adjusted).

7 Advance monthly sales for retail and food services, table 1 (U.S. Census Bureau, February 13, 2014),

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About the Author

Kara Sullivan

Kara Sullivan is an economist in the Office of Industry Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.