Climate change will affect income and inequality faced by retail workers, 10% of US employment

Climate change may lead to large swings in the incomes of U.S. retail workers, according to a new study published by the Federal Reserve.

In the analysis published this month, Fed economist Brigitte Roth Tran suggested that income inequality could increase as retail employees whose pay or hours are tied to sales find their work affected by more volatile weather patterns. Such workers account for about 10% of U.S. employment.

Roth Tran found that consumers already shift their shopping between outside and indoor stockists depending on the weather.

Retail sensitivity to weather can increase income volatility for low-income workers whose hours and wages depend on daily sales activity and whose economic well-being can be negatively affected by unpredictable income,” Roth Tran wrote. “Understanding how climate change will affect the retail sector is an important component to quantifying and adapting to the effects of climate change and also to understanding its potential implications for economic inequality.”

Another study published last month concluded slowing the pace of climate change in line with the Paris Agreement would have clear economic benefits as global warming is increasingly seen as a risk to financial stability and the economy.