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Kronos: Retail hiring slows for second consecutive month

CHELMSFORD, Mass. — The Kronos Retail Labor Index edged down one-tenth to 4.2% in July, reflecting declines in both hires and applications. (The 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 retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the U.S. that make up the Kronos data sample made 29,835 hires (seasonally adjusted) in July 2012, the lowest reading since January 2011 and the second consecutive monthly decline.

In other findings, the number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample fell 7.6% to 715,549 in July 2012 from a level in June that was revised slightly lower, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. Applications have fallen in six of the last seven months. In addition, the level in July was nearly 230,000 below its level one year ago and the second lowest level since the series began in September 2006.

"The Kronos Retail Labor Index edged down one-tenth to 4.2% in July, reflecting declines in both hires and applications. Following a strong start to the year, the recovery in hiring has slowed in recent months. A recent deceleration in overall consumer spending has likely encouraged more caution in hiring at retail,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which prepares the analysis and write-up for the monthly Kronos labor report.

Varvares added that until business conditions for retail firms begin strengthening again, which his firm expects later this year, he does not expect to see a marked pick-up in monthly hiring.

“In addition, we believe hiring has been restrained, in part, due to an elevated retention rate at retail firms in the Kronos sample, which indicates less job turnover and therefore reduced need for new hires,” he said.

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