Job Declines Continue Despite Other Positive Signs

Jan 08, 2010, 12:17 ET from Retail Industry Leaders Association

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Employment data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor indicates that the pace of job losses has slowed tremendously compared to a year ago. However, job creation remains elusive as lawmakers pursue legislation that would harm, not help, employers efforts to retain and add jobs, noted the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).

According to the report, the U.S. economy shed 85,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate remained steady at 10 percent. 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 health care reform legislation that would undermine the quality and affordability of health care insurance RILA members offer their employees and stifle retail job growth for years to come.

Other recent data, including December retail sales figures released yesterday 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.

"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."

RILA is the trade association of the world's largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

Donald B. Marron is a visiting professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, where he teaches courses in microeconomics and public finance. Dr. Marron is also president of Marron Economics LLC.

From 2002 to early 2009, Dr. Marron served in various senior positions in the White House and Congress including as a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, as acting director of the Congressional Budget Office, and as executive director of Congress' Joint Economic Committee. Before his government service, Dr. Marron taught economics and finance at the University of Chicago, Graduate School of Business, managed large antitrust cases at Charles River Associates, and served as chief financial officer of a health care software start-up in Austin, TX. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his B.A. in mathematics from Harvard.

SOURCE Retail Industry Leaders Association