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Kronos labor index: Job market more favorable for applicants


Chelmsford, Mass. -- Kronos Inc. said Thursday that its Retail Labor Index for May, which characterizes the current state of the demand and supply sides of the labor market within the U.S. retail sector, rose to 4.1%. (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).

The May reading of the Retail Labor Index reflected a moderate decline in hiring outpaced by a sharp drop in applications.

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the U.S. that make up the Kronos data sample made 33,186 hires in May, down 4% from an upwardly revised 34,560 in April. While the recovery in the retail labor market has been gradual and uneven, hiring at retail firms in the Kronos sample this year remains well above that in recent years, said the company.

The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample fell 14.8% to 809,414 in May 2012, more than reversing a sharp 14.6% jump in April, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. The level of applications in May was more than 250,000 below its level one year ago, reflecting the uneven downward trend that began in the second half of last year. The number of applications received in May was at the lowest level since September 2007.

Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, said that the May 4.1% jump is “the fourth reading of 4.0% or higher in the last five months. Compared to readings of about 3.5% over the last few years, the higher level signals a slightly more favorable job market for applicants, with more hires occurring per application submitted than in previous years. While much of the recent boost in the Index is accounted for by large declines in applications since the middle of last year, it also reflects a pick-up in hiring since the low levels experienced during and following the Great Recession. The average level of hires so far this year remains well above levels seen over the last three years, pointing to a firming in retail labor market conditions.”

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