Retail, Hospitality Hiring Drive US Job Growth

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The U.S. economy added 428,000 jobs last month thanks in part to hiring in the hospitality and retail sectors, the Department of Labor said Friday (May 6).

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Figures from the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics show that April was the 12th month in a row where job growth surpassed 400,000, while the unemployment rate stayed at 3.6%.

According to the bureau, the leisure and hospitality industries added 78,000 jobs in April, while factories added 55,000 new positions, warehousing/transportation hired 52,000 new workers, and the retail sector increased by 29,000. The bureau noted that retail employment is 284,000 workers higher than it was in February 2020.

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The figures also showed that gains in sectors such as food and beverage establishments, which added 24,000 jobs, and general merchandise stores, which added 12,000 new jobs, were offset somewhat by losses in building material and garden supply stores (down 16,000) and a 9,000-job decrease in health and personal care stores.

See also: US Jobless Claims Dip to Lowest Level in 53 Years

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Meanwhile, the labor market remains tight, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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“Anecdotally companies are still saying the biggest issue is a lack of available workers,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

The Journal quoted Mona Ghattas, who said she has struggled to fill positions at the pharmacy, restaurant and coffee shop she owns in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“It seems like I am continually looking to hire,” said Ghattas. “Turnover is high — higher than it’s ever been. I can hire somebody and they might show up or they might not show up. And then if they do show up, they might walk out after two hours and say, ‘I really just don’t want to do this.’”

Ghattas said she has doubled the wages of her waitstaff over the last two years and has begun offering benefits like boosting contributions to a healthcare account.

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