kronos logoThe recently announced September release of the Kronos Retail Labor Index shows a declined 3.9 percent in August, signaling a gain in number of applications and an increase in number of new hires within the industry. The Index, representing 18,362 locations across the nation, made nearly 35,000 new hires in August 2012, contributing to an annual rise in total hires this year, which is up 6.5 percent over the same period in 2010 (current total hires number 280,940). However, the level remains far below those seen prior to the recession where retail firms averaged almost 55,000 new hires per month.

Applications for positions in retail rose 8.8 percent in August 2012, reaching 881,517. Though even with the substantial gain, applications remain on a downward trend for the year. August’s level was down nearly 140,000 compared to August 2011. The 60-day retention rate ticked down 0.3 percent from 80.9 percent in March 2012 to 80.6 percent in April 2012. The rate measures the number of hires that remain employed for the first 60 days compared to the number of hires made in a given month.

Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder of Macroeconomic Advisors comments, “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.”

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