I have a lot of respect for Tim Wu, who has done much valuable work on concentration in the tech sector. However, when I saw his NYT piece on the death of the local hardware store I was somewhat skeptical. Most immediately, my experience with my thriving local hardware store (which gives great service, if any readers make it to Kanab) is 180 degrees at odds with his experience with his local hardware story in New York City.

So, I thought I would check the data. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the hardware store category (which is distinct from "home centers," presumably stores like Lowes and Home Depot) increased from 143,600 in September of 2009 to 159,400 in September, 2019. This is an increase of 11.0 percent. That is somewhat less than the 16.6 percent overall job growth over this period, but hardly makes it appear like hardware stores are dying.

Long and short, it looks like the factors that led to the closing of the hardware store Wu patronizes are largely unique to New York City and don't reflect the picture throughout the country.