In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses holiday retail sales, noting that the forecast calls for a relatively soft season. Specifically, he says Cyber Monday shopping continues to grow at a higher rate than in stores, although the rate of growth is more modest than the 8 to 10 percent clip in years past. One of the marketing tools created to combat that trend is Small Business Saturday.
Checking the employment picture, Harper says the latest figures on seasonal hiring are for October, and reflects an increase of almost 7% from October 2012. Overall, he says the average number of seasonal jobs added nationwide is between 600,000 and 800,000.
Additionally, Harper discusses the economics of student debt. A new report from the independent, nonprofit Institute for College Access and Success that 71% of 2012 university graduates are carrying debt. That’s up from 68 percent in 2008. Also, in 2012, graduates had average debt burdens of about $29,000, up about 20% from 2008, when the debt was $23,000.
Dr. Rick Harper is Director of the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement. He’s currently serving as Senior Economic Policy Advisor to the Florida Senate.