Employment in retail trade fell by 29,000 (-1.4%) in May, following declines of 84,000 in April. This brought the number of workers in retail to 6.2% (-140,000) below pre-pandemic levels, the lowest level since February 2021. Tightening public health restrictions in many jurisdictions have affected the operation of stores that sell non-essential goods.
Compared with one year before the pandemic in May 2019, about half of the difference in employment (52.5%, not seasonally adjusted) in retail trade was attributable to occupations that typically require at least a high school diploma. However, managers—occupations that generally require higher levels of experience, knowledge or education—have also been affected, with losses representing nearly one-third of the employment gap (29.0%, not seasonally adjusted) with May 2019.