- Employment growth at food and beverage stores decelerated sharply in September after several months of increases, with the industry producing fewer than 3,000 new positions, according to preliminary figures published Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
- Restaurants and bars, by contrast, added 60,000 jobs in September, a marked increase from the figure for August, the government said.
- Employment patterns in the grocery industry are in line with the direction of the overall job market, which created fewer positions last month than in August as the unemployment rate moved down slightly, to 3.5%. The economy added 263,000 non-farm positions in September, compared with 315,000 in August, according to the BLS.
Food retailers added new slots to their payrolls in September at the slowest pace since the sector shed 8,300 positions in May — an indication that the twin headwinds of high inflation and rising interest rates are taking a toll on the industry.
At 2,700, the number of new jobs in food and beverage stores generated last month was down from the 14,600 added in August. The drop reversed a three-month trend that started in June and saw the industry add more jobs every month than it did during the preceding one.
Nevertheless, grocers were among the top-performing groups in the BLS’s retail trade segment in September, with only "miscellaneous" retailers and health and personal care stores bringing on more positions.
Overall employment in the retail trade sector declined in September by 1,100 positions, to about 15.8 million, while the number of food and beverage jobs came in at just over 3.2 million.
Grocers are continuing their quest to find new workers at the same time that employment growth in the industry has tapered off. For example, Schnuck Markets held a job fair at all of its 112 stores in four Midwestern states yesterday, days after announcing that it has started offering workers the option to choose their own schedules using a mobile app.
But in a sign that the balance might be starting to shift, United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) Chief Financial Officer John Howard said last week that the job vacancy rate at UNFI’s distribution centers fell during the third quarter.
People in the United States have become less confident about the job market despite the low unemployment rate and continued — if slowing — gains across the job market, according to data from the latest Forbes Advisor-Ipsos Consumer Confidence Tracker released Thursday.
More than 40% of people in the U.S. believe unemployment will increase, the poll found, which is the highest level since Ipsos began tracking that data point in December 2021. Meanwhile, the percentage of people who are more confident in their job security now than they were six months ago fell by 3 percentage points.