Retail momentum continues across the nation
By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
If 2017 was the year of the retail apocalypse, 2018 could be the year of retail renaissance. The signs are promising.
It has been a solid second quarter for retail across the nation due to strong consumer confidence and increased consumer spending. Projections, as we head into the 3rd quarter of 2018, don’t show any sign of slowdown, according to the recent Monthly Economic Review put out by the National Retail Federation.
Nationally, retail industry employment increased by 66,000 jobs in July over the same period last year. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed retail job openings at a record monthly high of 807,000 in June but only 734,000 were hired, showing that there are more jobs than hirings. July retail sales increased 4.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year and sales were up 5 percent on a three-month period over the same time last year.
Due to the strength of retail sales in the first half of 2018, the NRF has updated its 2018 forecast. Its update expects a minimum 4.5 percent sales gain over 2017 rather than the 3.8 percent to 4.4 percent range forecasted earlier.
The U.S. trade policy continues to remain the biggest unknown and could cause consumers to be more cautious this fall.
September is all about Retail
By Chad Pearson, Communications, Employment Security Department
When partnerships are good, the results can be outstanding. That’s why the Washington Retail Association and the Employment Security Department are once again teaming up to promote September as Careers in Retail Month in Washington.
The goal is to create awareness around retail as a career, connect employers and job seekers in a tough labor market and to celebrate all things retail. The industry, which employs nearly 400,000 people in the state, is expected to list some 50,700 job openings in the five-year period ending in 2021. That’s a lot of jobs, many of which will be career and leadership positions.
It’s also why we created WARetailCareers.com as a new microsite within WorkSourceWA.com to encourage future managers to investigate careers in the industry. This new website is focused on the retail industry and also provides tools that make it easier for you to find and hire qualified candidates. For free on the website, you can post jobs as well as look for and manage candidates.
For the second consecutive year, Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed September as Careers in Retail month.
You, too, can keep the momentum going. Reach out to the WRA microsite to see how you can connect to job seekers in your area and make retail careers a top choice for the next generation.
WRA teams with Lane Powell on employee handbook
WRA has reached agreement with the law firm Lane Powell to produce a legal employee handbook by the end of this year.
The handbook will offer employers a complete summary of legal requirements for doing business, said Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Chief Operating Officer.
The state and cities around the state have been passing new human resource benefits in recent years that have increased obligations for employers. Hetrick said the handbook will be a handy reference to ensure that employers are in compliance with state and municipal requirements.
Hetrick also plans to continue her outreach around the state by meeting in person with employers to explain details of the new legal requirements for programs such as paid family and medical leave, paid sick and safe leave, gender pay equity and protections against domestic violence and sexual harassment.
Financial losses discussed at Retro Advisory Committee meeting
Several Retrospective Rating groups that enroll members in October every year reported financial losses during a recent Retro Advisory Committee meeting attended by Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s Chief Operating Officer. Hetrick is a member of the committee.
WRA was not among the Retro programs whose expenses for workers’ compensation claims exceeded their income from insurance premiums.
Regardless, Hetrick said other programs should follow WRA’s lead in purchasing risk insurance and gathering a savings fund, if possible, to hedge against possible financial losses.
Another good defense against losses is more energetic marketing to generate growth in Retro memberships, Hetrick said.
As a committee member, Hetrick said she would be paying closer attention to Labor and Industries rulemaking to better ensure the financial viability of Retro programs around the state. In short, such programs enable members to obtain partial refunds on their insurance premium expenses in return for maintaining safe workplaces that avoid employee injuries.
Washington restarts tourism promotion
After Washington State closed tourism promotion during a recession in 2011, a modest rebirth is beginning this year.
The Legislature in March approved the formation of a Tourism Marketing Authority that is awaiting financing to restart tourism promotion, an article in the online news source The Lens reports. Retailers pay attention to tourism because visitors to the state increase the pool of potential customers.
Compared with other states, Washington will be starting modestly in efforts to keep pace in tourism promotion. When the state got out of the business, private donations were used to promote the state.
In 2016, for example, those private funds amounted to about $700,000. But states such as Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California had promotions budgets ranging from between $8 million and $62 million.
Think tank issues briefing on proposed ban on local food taxes
The Washington Research Council issued a policy brief this week sharing background related to Initiative 1634 that will be on the ballot this fall.
I-1634 generally would ban local taxes on groceries much like Seattle’s sweetened beverage tax that has raised prices on drinks. Voters in Michigan, Arizona and California have approved such bans and Oregon voters will consider a ban on new grocery taxes this year.
The policy brief does not take a stance on I-1634 but rather reviews Washington State’s historic opposition to taxing food. It reviews a host of technicalities in the law that distinguish which current taxes on food would remain and which would be banned if voters approved the initiative.
WRA opposes I-1634 on several grounds. It would disproportionately affect poorer shoppers the most while making affected retailers less price competitive with nearby communities where a tax on food was not in place. Approval also would not repeal Seattle’s sweetened beverage tax. Read more.
Seattle’s boom leads to strains east of the Cascades
Seattle’s economic boom has resulted in negative financial outcomes in central Washington, according to a Seattle Times article this week.
Some Seattle companies, lured by lower prices east of the Cascades, have moved to Kittitas, Grant, Douglas and Chelan counties. In the process, they have attracted wealthy transplants who have driven up the price of housing and made it impossible for some central Washington residents to continue living in their hometowns, the paper reports.
The article also reports uncharacteristic home price spikes of between 16 percent and 20 percent the past two years in cities such as Chelan, Roslyn, Cle Elum and Wenatchee. At the same time, the market has begun to adjust and correct, according to the article.
Newly-arrived companies east of the Cascades have shifted to hiring more local residents and the shift of wealth has resulted in more home and apartment construction east of the Cascades to help hold down price increases. Times subscribers can read more here.
WRA co-sponsors labor and employment seminar
WRA is co-sponsoring an Oct. 23 seminar that will cover labor law and employment policies for companies. It will be held at the Grand Hyatt Seattle from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The seminar will be conducted in cooperation with the law firm Lane Powell.
Topics to be covered include:
- Rethinking employee investigations related to complaints
- New approaches to drug testing
- How to comply with new pay equity laws
- Immigration challenges faced by employers
- The top new federal, state and local legal developments employers need to know
A full agenda and list of speakers is being assembled and will be released at a later date. Those interested in attending are urged to register early because the event sold out last year.
Click here to register. WRA members should use the passcode “WRAGuest18″ for a registration discount.
Safety tip of the week
Address needs of seasoned workers
You may have noticed that people are working later in life. In demographic terms, about 10,000 baby boomers in the United States will turn 65 every day until about the year 2025, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Older workers represent a never-before-seen opportunity for employers,” said Mark Schmit, executive director of the Society of Human Resource Managers. ” In this knowledge economy, the retention of older workers gives employers a competitive edge by allowing them to continue to tap a generation of knowledge and skill.”
This knowledge and skill can be shared and passed to younger workers.
These mature workers may also have experienced some physical changes that can be easily addressed. Items like:
- Providing step ladders with handrails to assist with balance. Handrails can help balance for all workers including the more seasoned.
- Slowing overexertion by reducing over-reaching to a minimum. Locate workstations closer to tools to avoid excessive reaching.
- Adjusting computers to show dark text on light backgrounds, increasing settings for larger text and even internet browsers. Such capability already is available within existing software and just needs to be turned on.
- Raising lighting levels in stairwells, especially at the base and top of stairs. Marking the front edges of stairs in white or yellow for better visibility is a great help.
These ideas will benefit all workers no matter their age, but perhaps be of most help to older employees. Retail Association Services has a large section of web information on this topic that can be found here.
WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, x18 or firstname.lastname@example.org
WRA diversity statement
It’s essential to have a holistic strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. We encourage everyone to consider having a plan that connects with diverse people; creates a diverse workforce; fosters an inclusive work environment where different perspectives are valued; partners to share time, talent, and resources with our staff and with communities; and communicates these values with others.
In principle and in practice, we value access to leadership opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, appearance, geographic location, or professional level. The association strives to accomplish this by serving as a model where we are working to help our staff, our volunteer leaders, our members, and our community embrace these principles.