Last year's swimsuit

The other day Gerald Perrins, the local data wonk at the Philadelphia office of the U.S. Labor Department, sent me 128 pages of local employment data. It's really fascinating. Here's a little tidbit: In the Philadelphia metropolitan division, which includes the city and the four surrounding suburbs, 23,100 people worked in clothing and clothing accessory stores in June, 2008. A year later? Just 20,000 -- 3,100 fewer people. That's a decline of 13.4 percent.

So are you buying fewer clothes and accessories? Making do with last year's swimsuit? If you are, then maybe you are part of the reason why employment's down

There was a little bump up from May, about 200 people getting jobs. No point in getting excited, though. In most of the last five years, employment in clothing and clothing accessory stores rose by 200 from May to June. No idea why.

Employment also declined in general merchandise stores, like Wal-Mart or Target. Employment dropped by 1,500 from 27,300 a year ago.