Retail job numbers preview what local merchants were expecting from Black Friday sales


By DON FENLEY

The first numbers on this year’s Black Friday won’t begin showing up for a couple of weeks but the  retail job sector performance offered a preview of what  merchants were expecting.

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, said about 240,000 jobs have been added every month since August, well than the first three months of the year.

The number of Kingsport-Bristol retail jobs is up by 100 since August. The total last month was 15,100 – 300 more than the first of the year. But local retailers didn’t hire like they did last year. The total for last month was 400 fewer than the same month last year. The traditional pattern will see more retail hiring in November and December.

Retail jobs had a better showing in the Johnson City MSA. The total stood at 10,200. That’s 200 more than August and the same number the sector started with in January.  Last month’s total was equal with October 2007 and 300 more than the same month last year.

October’s unemployment rates and labor sector heat charts can be found by CLICKING HERE.

The NRF forecasts a 3.9% sales gain this holiday season over last, only a bit better than last year’s 3.4% increase.

“I expect a steady improvement, because employment is beginning to grow and that will help sales,” Kleinhenz said. “We haven’t had job growth early enough in 2013 to help out holiday 2013.”

The other factor holding back the holiday is that income growth has been too small to support spending sprees, said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, a consulting group that serves mostly regional banks.

October’s average private sector wages will be posted here on later today. . That report will show the average weekly wage in both MSAs was down from last year and the previous month.

Retail sales tax collections in the Tri-Cities continued a two-month plunge in October and crossed the line into negative territory. CLICK HERE for that report.

November’s sales tax collections will few available in a couple of weeks.

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