The retail sector added nearly a quarter-million jobs in August, notching the highest growth among private industries.
General merchandising stores added 116,000 workers, while automobile and appliance sales each added about 20,000 positions.
Overall, the American economy continued its recovery, adding back 1.4 million jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 8.4 percent from 10.2 percent in July, leaving 13.6 million Americans unemployed, according to Labor Department figures released Friday.
“The 1.4 million increase in employment in August, while strong by historical standards, still shows the economy has a long way to go,” said chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association Mike Fratantoni.
“3.1 million workers reported being called back from temporary furlough [is] a significant improvement, but another 500,000 individuals now report being on a permanent layoff,” he said.
Only the federal government hired more people than the retail sector last month, mainly in temporary positions for the 2020 census.
August also saw 174,000 leisure and hospitality jobs added back to the economy, with 134,000 of those at food-and-beverage establishments.
Still, the restaurant industry employs 2.5 million fewer people than in February, despite a recovery of 3.6 million workers over the last four months.
In New York City, nearly two-thirds of restaurants expect to be out of business before the end of the year, according to a recent survey by the New York State Restaurant Association. The Hilton Hotel in Times Square, which began struggling before the pandemic, disclosed on Wednesday that it will close permanently.
Gains in warehousing and transportation employment, which rose by 78,000 in August, boosted industrial real estate. Storage and warehousing accounted for 34,000 of those jobs, while truck transportation saw an increase of 10,000. Still, the industry counts 381,000 fewer jobs than it had in February.
Real estate rental and leasing positions grew slightly last month, adding 23,000 jobs, making up a majority of the 36,000 jobs added to the financial activities sector. The construction industry saw a modest increase of 16,000 jobs.
Contact Orion Jones at [email protected]