- Food and beverage stores added 5,700 positions in December, building on a smaller gain recorded the previous month, according to preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
- Restaurants and bars generated 26,000 jobs last month, down from more than twice that amount in November.
- Employers created 223,000 non-farm jobs in December, and the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.5% compared to the 3.7% rate recorded in November.
Grocers led the way in job creation in the retail industry during the final weeks of 2022, accounting for more than half of the 9,000 jobs the sector tacked on in December, the BLS reported.
Food and beverage stores had just over 3.2 million positions on their payrolls last month, roughly a fifth of the approximately 15.8 million in the retail sector as a whole. By comparison, food and beverage retailers counted about 3.1 million jobs in December 2021, while the overall retail industry accounted for a little under 15.5 million positions.
Employment fell last month at general merchandise stores — a category that includes department stores, warehouse clubs and supercenters — as well as among retailers that focus on goods like electronics, furniture, building supplies and apparel.
Employers have added jobs at a brisk pace in recent months even as economists have sounded warnings that the U.S. is poised for a recession in 2023. The across-the-board job growth seen in December builds on even larger increases in October and November — a trend that has defied the Federal Reserve’s efforts to curb the powerful inflation that has rocked the economy through multiple interest rate hikes. The economy grew during the third quarter of 2022 after contracting during the first six months of the year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The annual rate of grocery inflation has come down somewhat during the past few months, but remains significantly elevated, helping to drive revenue in the grocery industry. Spending at food and beverage stores rose 8.6% in November compared to the same period in 2021, according to the latest statistics available from the federal government.
Layoffs are piling up across the country even as grocers add frontline jobs, with Amazon announcing Wednesday that it is planning to cut about 18,000 positions, including many in its Amazon Stores division, which includes grocery operations like the company’s Amazon Fresh chain. But even as some employers have moved to cut jobs, initial unemployment claims for unemployment remain relatively stable, the U.S. Department of Labor reported.