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Department stores and auto parts dealers saw the steepest job cuts in April, as both sectors have been hit hardest during the recession.

U.S. retailers cut 46,700 jobs during the moth, making April the 15th consecutive month of job losses in the sector.

But the results remained below the industry's average monthly pace of 53,000 jobs over the past 12 months, said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Retail jobs accounted for 11.5% of the 539,000 jobs lost in April.

Department stores cut 13,600 jobs, while motor vehicle and parts dealers cut 11,600 jobs and automobile dealers cut 9,300. General merchandise stores, which include discounters, lost 8,100 jobs. Furniture and home furnishing stores lost 5,400 jobs.

Electronics and appliance stores lost 1,600 jobs.

Best Buy

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said that during the month it will demote a chunk of its senior sales associates in its stores, which it was reported could lead to 1,000 job cuts.

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Clothing stores lost 1,200 jobs. Last week

Jones Apparel


, which owns chains like Nine West and Anne Klein, said it will close 225 stores and eliminate another 375 jobs.

Teen retailer

Abercrombie & Fitch

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also reported on May 1 that it will eliminate 170 jobs from its headquarters.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate climbed to 8.9 percent, the highest since late 1983, as many businesses remain cautious about hiring workers as the economy remains weak.

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