The toll of one of the largest US retail failures is evident in July employment statistics, which were dragged down by the collapse of Toys R Us.

On Friday, the US labour department cited a loss of 31,800 positions in the "sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores" sector in July, likely related to 33,000 workers being left jobless by the shutdown of the largest US toy retailer.

Toys R Us closed the last of its hundreds of US stores at the end of June, leaving employees without severance pay. The retailer had struggled for years with $5bn in debt from its 2005 buyout, along with new competition from online and discount retailers.

Eight former Toys R Us workers travelled to Washington this week to meet several US senators. They asked the legislators to consider measures to prevent a similar scenario in the future, and for help in securing compensation in lieu of the severance they had expected.

Speaking after a meeting with Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, some former Toys R Us workers said they had been unsuccessful in finding new jobs so far, a task made even more difficult after spending the bulk of their career at the big-box retailer.

With Scott Lanman