As the vaccine rolls out to more of the population and stores reopen amid easing restrictions, retailers are adding jobs and putting a dent in the unemployment rate. The industry added 22,500 stores in March. Clothing and accessories stores led the way, adding 16,300 jobs. Miscellaneous store retailers and non-store retailers added thousands of jobs, while general merchandise stores and sporting goods and hobby stores cut them. Overall, the results for the retail industry exceeded expectations.
Still, employment in the retail trade is 381,000 below levels recorded in February 2020 — just before the pandemic whipped the U.S. economy.