Census Bureau: New Report Released on Retail Workers

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released Retail Workers: 2018, a new report on the nation’s retail workforce. Retail jobs are some of the most common occupations in the United States. This report does not reflect any possible economic impacts related to COVID-19, but instead serves as a pre-crisis benchmark for future research. In 2018, 9.8 million workers were employed as either retail salespersons, cashiers or first-line supervisors of retail sales workers.

Highlights include:

  • In 2018, 9.8 million workers were employed as either retail salespersons, cashiers or first-line supervisors of retail sales workers. Together, these three detailed occupations accounted for 6.3% of the total labor force.
  • Over half of all retail workers were ages 16 to 34. Cashiers had the youngest age profile, with 48.3% between the ages of 16 and 24.
  • Women were less likely than men to manage or supervise retail workers. About 47% of first-line supervisors of retail workers were women, compared to 53.4% who were men.
  • Black and Hispanic retail workers were less likely than White retail workers to be in supervisory positions like first-line supervisors of retail sales workers.
  • Cashiers were among the lowest paid members of the retail workforce. In 2018, the median earnings for full-time, year-round cashiers was $22,109, compared to $35,301 for retail salespersons and $42,421 for first-line supervisors of retail salespersons. 
  • Around 25% of cashiers were covered by Medicaid at some point in 2018, compared to 12.6% of retail salespersons and 7.8% of first-line supervisors of retail workers. 

This analysis includes data from the 2000 Census and the 2010 and 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year estimates. The ACS is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities with reliable and timely demographic, social, economic and housing data for the nation, states, congressional districts, counties, places and other localities every year. Beginning in 2005, ACS data have been released annually for geographic areas with populations of 65,000 and greater. For more information on the ACS sample design and other topics, visit <www.census.gov/acs>. Additional resources on more current workforce dynamics can be found at <https://lehd.ces.census.gov/data/>.

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