REPORT: RETAIL SECTOR BOOMING, BUT WORKERS EXPERIENCE POVERTY WAGES

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Yana Walton, Retail Action Project Communications Director
O: 646-490-5925 C: 646-453-9816
Ben Wyskida, BerlinRosen Public Affairs
O: 646-200-5320 C: 917-825-1289

New York, NY - Ahead of the National Retail Federation’s annual expo, the Retail Action Project (RAP) and Stephanie Luce of the City University of New York (CUNY) Murphy Institute are releasing a report on Tuesday, January 17th exposing the low-wages, harsh working conditions and bias facing workers on the front lines of the fastest growing sector in the U.S. economy. The National Retail Federation says retail supports 1 in 4 American jobs, with their tagline reading ‘Retail Means Jobs.’ Because of record profits, Retail Sales Associate is one of six job categories estimated to experience the greatest job growth nationwide through 2018. But the growing retail industry is also a leader in bad jobs – as the largest employer of low-wage workers. Almost 60 percent of the retail workforce is hired as part-time, temporary or holiday. Therefore, the industry is really creating underemployment – Not the kind of jobs America needs to stimulate our economy.

The report “Discounted Jobs: How Retailers Sell Workers Short” surveyed 436 retail workers at large national chains in the fall of 2011, and tracks the wages and working conditions of frontline non-managerial workers in New York’s booming retail industry. While economists track consumer spending and retail sales as measurements used to monitor the health of the economy, this report reveals other numbers that perhaps show a more accurate picture of
the economy that’s experienced by working people. Results debunk several myths surrounding the industry that boasts about putting America back to work.

The report reveals:

* Over half of all workers surveyed earn less than $10/hour
* Only 25% have ever used a paid sick day
* More than 70% don’t get health insurance from their job
* 77% of Latina women made under $10/hour
* Only 17% have a regular schedule
* 34% of retail workers surveyed relied on some form of public
assistance

Some worst industry players included: JC Penney, Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21, Uniqlo, Banana Republic, Target, Club Monaco, Tommy Hilfiger, and Victoria’s Secret.

Best industry practices in wages, scheduling and benefits are also featured, including members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), an affiliate of 1.3 million member union of the United, Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). The RWDSU represents retail workers who work in Saks Fifth Ave, Macys, Bloomingdales, H&M, Cole Haan, and hundreds of other stores.


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The Retail Action Project (RAP) is an organization of retail workers dedicated to improving opportunities and workplace standards in the retail industry. RAP will be holding a press availability at the Javits Center in NYC on Tuesday the 17th at 11am, and retail employees from national companies will be available for interviews.

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