State of the Labor Market

Indeed Retail Jobs Tracker: How Did the Industry Do in Q1 2018?

Indeed Hiring Lab tracks retail employment over the quarter, analyzing the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data and Indeed's own job posting and search data.

In our first Indeed Retail Jobs Tracker, we look at the state of traditional retail and ecommerce, retail job-seeker behavior, and geography of retail employment.

Overall, we’ve seen modest growth in the industry over the past three months. Here’s what we’ve found:

Retail overview:

  • Total employment in the retail sector through March 2018 was up a bit from a year before (+0.4%), but the sector is growing more slowly than overall job growth (+1.5%).
  • In recent months employment in “brick and mortar” retail stores has begun to recover from months of declines, and now is at the same level as a year ago. Brick and mortar retail excludes nonstore (or ecommerce) retailers, as well as auto-related stores.
    • Brick and mortar retail employment was essentially at the same level as a year before (down 0.03% year-over-year — see chart), as of March 2018.
    • Brick and mortar retail employment stood at nearly 12.4 million, or 3,200 jobs below the level from March 2018.
  • The worst performing sub-industries are particularly exposed to competition from ecommerce: “Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book, and Music Stores” and “Electronics and Appliance Stores.” The best performing sub-industry (“Building Material and Garden Supply Stores”) may be less vulnerable to ecommerce. “General Merchandise Stores” make up the largest share of brick-and-mortar employment, and those jobs grew 0.4% year-over-year in March 2018.
  • Wage growth is about average for retail workers. As of March 2018, average hourly earnings are up 2.4% year-over-year, to $18.48; and average weekly earnings have risen 3.4% to $576.58. So retail workers are getting steady pay raises and more hours. But those increases are about typical for most workers. The growth in hourly earnings for all workers is 2.7% year-over-year, to $26.82; and weekly earnings grew 3.3% to $925.29.

Ecommerce and warehousing:

  • Ecommerce and warehousing jobs are growing briskly, although the rate is slowing for warehousing jobs. We don’t have up-to-date data on ecommerce; the latest readings date to Q3 2017. In that quarter, ecommerce jobs rose 8.4% compared to Q3 2016.
  • Warehousing jobs increased 3.6% year-over-year as of March 2018, a slowdown from a peak of 13.6% in December 2015.

Indeed job seeker update:

  • What jobs do people have when they click on retail postings? Here are the top 10 jobs of individuals who clicked on retail job postings during Q1 2018:  


  • Where in the country are we seeing the biggest growth in retail job postings and clicks?  These are the 10 major cities with the highest share of retail job postings:

  • These are the top 10 major cities for job seeker interest in retail:


The sources for the two sections, “Retail overview” and “Ecommerce and warehousing,” are the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics and Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. In the sections “Indeed job seeker update” and “Geography” the source is internal Indeed data. Cities mean Census metropolitan statistical areas. In the rankings of the top cities, only the ones with at least a greater-than-average number of retail job postings or clicks are shown.

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