Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Biden’s commerce secretary says many retail jobs may not return

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President Biden’s commerce secretary Gina Raimondo said in an interview that many pre-pandemic jobs, particularly in the retail and service sectors, may not return, even if the labor market recovers from the pandemic.

“The real issue, I think, is that a lot of the jobs that people lost are the types of jobs, for example, in the retail or service industries, that may or may not return. numbers,” she said in an interview that First aired Thursdays on Acesparks.

“And so, what does that mean, we have to lean into apprenticeship and job training and up-skilling,” she said.

Raimondo’s remarks came after the Labor Department said Thursday that weekly new jobless claims fell to 364,000, a new pandemic low. But the data also showed that about 3.5 million Americans were still on traditional state unemployment benefits.

His remarks also came a day ahead of June’s much-anticipated jobs report, which showed the US added 850,000 jobs last month, well above expectations of 706,000 new jobs.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said some retail jobs may never return.
Chip Somodevilla/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

After seeing a slight decline in May, retail added 67,000 new jobs in June, the data showed.

Another 194,000 new jobs came from restaurants and bars, leading to major gains in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector.

This still excludes leisure and hospitality, where 2.2 million jobs were down in February 2020, before the pandemic hit the economy. And despite the boom in new jobs, the region’s unemployment rate actually rose to 10.9 percent.

Across the US economy as a whole, there were a record 9.3 million jobs as of April. The federal government is expected to release the number of openings for May next week, providing more information about the differences between hiring and openings.

Friday’s jobs report also showed that average hourly earnings rose to $30.40 an hour, up 0.33 percent from May and 3.57 percent from a year ago.

Salaries are typically among the highest costs to corporate America, and as the cost of hiring rises, it could force companies to rethink headcount.

Even as the jobs market started off strongly in the summer, Kurt Long, chief economist of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, said the economy was still recovering from a job loss in the spring.

The US posted disappointing jobs figures in both April and May.

A hiring sign is displayed at the Firestone Complete Auto Care Store
About 3.5 million Americans are still receiving state unemployment benefits.
Name Y. huh/ap

Amid a slower-than-expected recovery, some economists have commented that the labor market could change radically during the pandemic, reducing the overall need for certain types of workers that businesses have learned to do without.

Long said he is not completely sold on that argument, adding that the data so far shows there is “still a hole to fill” in the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors.

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