(Retail Association of Nevada) – Since peaking in December 2007 at 147,400 positions, retail jobs in Nevada have declined steadily, totaling only 129,500 as of October 2009. The loss of 17,900 positions represents a 12.1-percent decline in retail employment.
Over the same time frame, total employment in Nevada declined by 5.8 percent, or 74,700 positions. Stated otherwise, Nevada retailers account for roughly 11 percent of the state’s employment but nearly 25 percent of its displaced workforce.
However, it is important to note that retail employment tends to be highly seasonal. Peak employment occurs during the holiday shopping season. For this reason, it is worth comparing October 2009 figures to those reported in the same month in 2007, just before the ramp-up to an all-time peak in retail employment in the state.
Since October 2007, retail positions have declined by 10,600, or 7.6 percent. Over the same time frame, total employment has declined by 5.6 percent, or 71,300 positions. Comparing October 2007 to the same month in 2009, a retail job represents one in every seven jobs lost in Nevada, roughly 14.9 percent.
Comparing October 2009 to the same month in 2008, the latest figures indicate there has been a loss of 8,400 retail positions, or a decline of 6.1 percent year-over-year. Since October 2008, job losses in the retail sector have been approximately proportionate to positions lost in the broader state economy, with a retail position representing one in every nine jobs lost (10.8 percent). Total employment in Nevada declined by 6.0 percent over the same period.
Mary Lau, President of the Retail Association of Nevada, said, “The loss of jobs in the retail sector over the past two years has been particularly disheartening. While also impacting the economy as a whole, declines in consumers’ discretionary spending have disproportionately impacted retail employees.”
When asked about the outlook for the retail sector, Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst with Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis noted, “We are looking for sales growth of 1 to 2 percent during the holiday shopping season as well as more seasonal hiring as compared to late 2008.”
Aguero cautioned, however, that December 2008’s taxable sales of $3.9 billion were the lowest level reported since 2003, so any improvement will be relative. Nevada’s 13.0-percent unemployment rate is 5.3 percentage points higher than it was one year ago, meaning there are fewer consumers each with less disposable income generating the sales that support retail jobs.
Respecting these conditions, Aguero noted, “One year ago the national and state economies were in a free fall; today there are signs of life. Consumers with a cautious but improved outlook are slowly creeping out of their shells.”