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Consumer confidence rises in U.S.

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index revealed Thursday that consumer confidence in the U.S. climbed for the second week in a row, suggesting rising optimism about economic issues.

The Index rose to minus 44.8 in the period to Jan. 29 from minus 46.4 the previous week. A measure of Americans’ view of the state of economy climbed to the highest since June, according to the report.

Gains in employment and post-holiday clearance sales at retailers also helped create a better buying climate for consumers, the report showed.

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RILA to debut Labor and Employment Forum

BY Staff Writer

Arlington, Va. — The Retail Industry Leaders Association said Thursday that it will hold the first-ever Labor and Employment Law Forum on March 21-22, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The conference is intended to provide insights from members of Congress, legal experts and retailers on the latest issues on labor and employment law affecting the retail industry.

“Retailers find themselves at a crossroads with the recent and unprecedented activity coming out of the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board,” said Katherine Lugar, executive VP public affairs, RILA. “This forum is a unique opportunity for retailers to join their peers to discuss these recent changes and other relevant issues affecting the industry, as well as discuss how retailers should prepare moving forward and what proactive steps they can take.”

The one-day event will also provide an opportunity for lawyers within the retail teams to earn continuing legal education (CLE) credits. Topics to be discussed include a Congressional outlook on labor legislation for 2012, the NLRB, the EEOC, social media usage and the California wage and hour laws.

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Kronos report: Retail hiring conditions tighten

BY Katherine Boccaccio

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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