Kronos report: Retail hiring conditions tighten

Chelmsford, Mass. -- A report released Thursday by Kronos Inc. showed that hiring conditions among retailers are tightening, suggesting an improvement in the industry.

The Kronos Retail Labor Index jumped to 4.1% in January 2012 from a downwardly revised 3.4% in December 2011. (This index is defined as the ratio of hires to applications within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3.0% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.) This was the second reading above 4.0% since October 2008 and primarily reflected a sharp decline in applications, as hires were little changed from December.

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample made 33,324 hires (seasonally adjusted) in January 2012, roughly unchanged from an upwardly revised 33,279 hires in December 2011. The level of hires in January was up about 2% from fourth quarter 2010 and in line with the 2011 average of 33,500 hires per month, continuing the slow, uneven improvement in hiring that began in the second quarter of last year.

The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample declined sharply in January 2012, falling 16.7% to 815,749 from an upwardly revised 979,718 in December 2011, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. The level of applications in January was down nearly 15% from its level one year ago. 

“With signs the overall labor market is firming, recent declines in applications at retailers could reflect renewed job prospects in other industries,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, who conducted the survey.

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