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Retail sheds jobs again as US hiring cools in most sectors

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retailers cut jobs in March for a second straight month as department stores and clothing shops cut costs to contend with the shift to online shopping.

Retailers slashed nearly 30,000 positions after a similar trend in February. Over two months, the retail sector has lost 60,600 jobs.

The cuts stemmed from weakness in certain types of stores. Those selling clothes, general merchandise and health goods reduced their payrolls. By contrast, stores specializing in electronics, building supplies and food added jobs.

Overall, employers added 98,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent from 4.7 percent.

Hiring cooled across most sectors. Construction added just 6,000 jobs, the fewest in seven months. Education and health care, a category that has consistently posted some of the most robust hiring over the past year, gained just 16,000. That was the weakest increase in 15 months.

At the same time, hiring accelerated in professional and business services, which added 56,000 jobs. The jump was fueled by new jobs in architecture and engineering, management consulting, administrative services and computer systems design.

Industry (change from previous month) March 2017 February 2017 Past 12 months
Construction 6,000 59,000 177,000
Manufacturing 11,000 26,000 37,000
Retail -29,700 -30,900 58,500
Transportation, warehousing 3,500 8,100 88,700
Information (Telecom, publishing) -3,000 -4,000 -32,000
Financial services 9,000 6,000 178,000
Professional services (Accounting, engineering, temp work) 56,000 36,000 639,000
Education and health 16,000 66,000 527,000
Hotels, restaurants, entertainment 9,000 27,000 258,000
Government 9,000 -2,000 152,000
Source: Labor Department

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