Although Department of Labor data reveals that the retail industry added almost 50,000 jobs in last month -- the second-highest increase since September 2007 -- the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) cautioned that new regulations could slow the continued pace of job growth.
The data shows that the retail industry added 49,800 jobs in November, raising the number of total U.S. retail jobs to 14.7 million. The retail industry has added nearly 200,000 new jobs just in 2011, averaging 14,000 new jobs each month. The news coincides with optimism regarding the current holiday shopping season.
“Strong job growth in the retail industry is proof positive that the consumer is back,” noted Sandy Kennedy, president of Arlington, Va.-based RILA, whose members consist of more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers and service suppliers. “As consumers gain confidence and open their wallets once again, the retail industry is poised to grow. The actions taken by retailers over the past four years to strengthen their operations and attract new customers position it well to thrive as the economy continues to recover.”
As one of the United States’ largest private employers, the retail industry is highly susceptible to economic changes and workforce-related regulations. With the economy now recovering, RILA has concentrated on regulations it deems harmful to employers and which the trade group believes could interfere with further job gains. RILA cited recent decisions from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as giving retailers cause for doubt, specifically the board’s decision in the Specialty Healthcare case.
“November's retail job gains are terrific, but policymakers must not take it for granted that continued growth is a given,” warned Kennedy. “Regulatory challenges, particularly those emerging from the National Labor Relations Board, could easily replace economic challenges as the greatest impediment to job creation, which would undermine the industry ability to regain jobs lost during the recession.”
The Specialty Healthcare decision reverses decades of precedent by allowing unions to “gerrymander a workplace to establish micro-unions, creating unnecessary divisions within the workforce, undermining staffing flexibility and impeding retailers’ ability to meet the expectations of their customers,” according to RILA. The organization adds that the decision would also diminish career development opportunities by limiting cross-training, and could cause a company’s operating costs to skyrocket.
RILA, which has fought doggedly to reverse the Specialty Healthcare decision, hailed the passage this week of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to do just that. The group has called on the Senate to take up the bill quickly to protect employee and employer rights and to ensure the regulation doesn’t harm continued retail job growth.