By Michelle Graff
New York--Two major media outlets addressed the issue of retail job losses over the weekend, with Meet the Press calling it the “next big political problem.”

During the “Data Download” segment of the Sunday morning news program, host Chuck Todd presented data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that the number of people employed in retail declined between 2014 and 2016, even as the unemployment rate shrank.

He also pointed out that while disappearing manufacturing and coal jobs get a lot of attention from politicians, the number of positions lost in retail has “been largely ignored,” even though it is an industry that employs millions more than coal and is both demographically and geographically diverse.

“The loss of retail jobs is on the verge of hitting a crisis point, which will make it a hot-button issue in our politics,” Todd said. “Expect the great retail displacement to become a growing, major issue in 2018 and 2020 ... The biggest issue in the next 25 years will be work--the future of it--the population is growing and the jobs are disappearing.”

Also on Sunday, The New York Times ran an article about how the loss of retail jobs and the rise of online shopping is impacting small cities in the Northeast and Midwest that came to rely on retail for employment after their factories and mills shut down.

The Times article focused on Johnstown, a city in Western Pennsylvania that, like other areas in that half of the state, never really recovered from the closure of its steel mills.

Many of those who stayed in the area found retail to be their only employment option but, now, those jobs are disappearing as mom-and-pop stores lose ground to e-tailers. And while online retailers are creating jobs, they aren’t necessarily in smaller cities like Johnstown, the Times article states.

Among the small retailers profiled in the piece was Randy Clark, who runs family-owned men’s wear shop Miller’s Clothing Store.

Clark’s story will sound familiar to independent jewelers--struggles with vendors that won’t let him sell their product online (even though they do), a more casual society that has led to a decrease in demand for the product he sells, and the need to revamp his store in order to make it more of an experience.

The Times article also featured local jeweler Tom Apryle IV, who runs the jewelry store his great-grandfather opened in 1902, Apryle’s. The store, however, declined to talk with National Jeweler when reached by phone Monday.

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