- Food and beverage store payrolls rose by 1,800 positions in January, down from a larger increase during the previous month, according to preliminary data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Restaurants and bars added nearly 99,000 jobs last month, nearly four times the number of positions the sector generated in December.
- The unemployment rate declined slightly in January, to 3.4%, a reflection of the job market’s resilience despite elevated inflation and the Federal Reserve’s ongoing efforts to slow price increases by steadily raising interest rates.
Hiring at food and beverage stores decelerated significantly during the first month of 2023 even as the overall job market roared ahead, underscoring the strong competition grocers have recently been facing as they look to attract workers.
Job creation in the food retailing industry fell by two-thirds in January compared with December, when grocers added 5,700 slots to their payrolls. By comparison, the economy generated 517,000 nonfarm jobs last month, up from 223,000 positions in December.
The job gains rippled across the economy, with the leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and healthcare sectors leading the way, the BLS said. In a further sign of the job market’s strength, employers added new workers last month at a pace that was well ahead of the average monthly increase of 401,000 for all of 2022, according to the agency.
Overall, retailers brought on just over 30,000 jobs in January — a sharp increase from the 9,000 positions the sector added in December. General merchandise retailers accounted for more than half of the gain last month, with warehouse clubs and supercenters leading the way with more than 11,000 new positions. Stores that sell clothing, electronics and appliances all recorded strong gains, while employment fell among furniture, health and personal care retailers.
The job market boomed in January against a backdrop of layoffs, particularly among technology companies, which eliminated over 60,000 positions last month. Among the people who lost jobs in January were supply chain managers, store designers and software engineers in Amazon’s Fresh supermarket division and grocery delivery operations, CNBC reported.
Economic growth slowed during the fourth quarter of 2022 but remained in positive territory. Gross domestic product rose an estimated 2.9% during the final three months of the year, compared with a 3.2% bump during the third quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.