By Dominic Rush

The retail sector has been the biggest loser of jobs for the last two years in a row in the US, as thousands of stores closed as shoppers moved online. It remains one of the US’s largest employers, providing 15.8m jobs, but the reordering of the retail landscape is having a profound impact on the nature of its workforce.

Between November 2016 and November 2017, the sector fired 129,000 women (the largest loss for any industrial sector for either sex) while men gained 109,000 positions, according to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). In the whole labour force women gained 985,000 jobs over the year, while men gained 1.08m jobs.

Retail remains a “hugely important” employer for women, said Heidi Hartmann, IWPR president, especially as a provider of part-time jobs for women who are looking to balance work with family obligations. “Women are very dependent on the nearby shopping center and retail outlets especially as they get back into the work market.” But the shift in how Americans shop – and in what they are buying – is having a profound effect.

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