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The Kronos Retail Labor Index: (This index is defined as the ratio of hires to applications within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3.0 percent means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred). The Kronos Retail Labor Index declined two-tenths to 3.9 percent in August reflecting gains in both applications and hiring.
Retail Hiring Level: The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the U.S. that make up the Kronos data sample made 34,776 hires (seasonally adjusted) in August 2012, partially reversing declines over the previous two months. While hiring has improved since the lows reached following the recession, with total hires so far this year of 280,940 up 6.5 percent from the same period last year, it remains well below levels seen prior to the recession, when firms hired an average of nearly 55,000 workers per month.
Retail Applications Level: The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample rose 8.8 percent to 881,517 in August 2012 from a level in July that was revised substantially higher, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. Even with the gain this month and the large upward revision to the July level, applications still appear to be trending down from highs reached last year, with the level in August nearly 140,000 below its level one year ago.
Retail 60-Day Retention Rate: The 60-day retention rate, measured as the number of hires who remain employed for at least the first 60 days divided by the total number of hires made in that month, edged down from 80.9 percent in March 2012 to 80.6 percent in April 2012, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. (Note: There is a four-month lag on this indicator as two months are required to measure whether a hire remained employed for 60 days and Kronos customers have two months to return data on separations.)
Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers “The Kronos Retail Labor Index slipped two-tenths to 3.9 percent in August, reflecting a strong rebound in applications that outpaced a moderate increase in hires. Both gains were from levels in July revised significantly higher. While this was the second monthly gain in applications, the downward trend appears intact, suggesting less competition for those seeking retail positions than at this time last year. Meanwhile, the moderate gain in hires partially reversed the decline over the previous two months, leaving hires slightly below the strong readings that started the year. Last month’s solid report on retail sales for July was encouraging, but followed several weak reports which had raised concerns over the strength of consumer spending in the near term. Until a strong, sustained recovery in consumer spending emerges, retailers are likely to remain cautious about hiring decisions.”