For retail the Friday April 7 jobs reports was anything but good.
Hiring during March slowed in dramatic fashion, with the U.S. economy adding only 98,000 new jobs or about 50% of the more than 180,000 that economists had forecasted. It was the weakest jobs report since May of 2016.
In addition, the number for both January and February were revised downward by over 38,000 jobs with the economy adding 22,000 less jobs in January than first thought and 16,000 less in February.
The lone bright spot on the report was the rate of unemployment that continued dropping. For March, the rate dropped to 4.5% from 4.7% which was its lowest since March of 2007.
Economists believe that an unemployment that remains between 4% and 5% should be representative of full employment.
March marked the 78th straight month in which jobs grew, the longest stretch since officials records have been kept dating back to 1939.
One big trend that has formed in the jobs report is the weakness in the retail sector for jobs. During March retail lost over 29,700 jobs, while in February it shrank by 30,000 jobs.
It might be considered the effect of e-commerce with Amazon.com at the front of that line or impact from automation, but it was clear with on Friday in the latest report that retail faces a big problem currently and the pain is predicted to continue with more closing of stores and businesses filing for bankruptcy protection.
Many are also worried about the possible border tax and how it will affect retailers. Most feel retailers will be hit the hardest, especially the apparel retailers due to importing most of their goods.
The jobs report also creates questions about whether softer data that shows consumers and businesses feeling optimistic really translates to action.
While the average earnings per hour continue to rise, up by 5 cents during March to a current $26.14, the amount that earnings grow by has slowed.
Some Wall Street analysts believe the big storm in March along the east coast skewed March’s numbers and want to see what happens in April.
For example, construction in February gained 59,000 new jobs, but added only 6,000 during March. Analysts want to see if the blizzard slowed hiring or the economy is really slowing.
Investors appear to be taking a wait and see attitude as well for now.