Kronos Retail Labor Index hits three-year high

Chelmsford, Mass. -- A report released Thursday by Kronos Inc. found that hiring in the retail sector continues to make marked improvements. The Kronos Retail Labor Index, which analyzes the current state of the demand and supply sides of the labor market within the U.S. retail sector, rose to 4.2% in November 2011, from a downwardly revised 3.5% in October. This was the highest reading since October 2008 and the second reading of 4% or higher in the last three months.

The Index is defined as the ratio of hires to applicants within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.

“This increase in November hires relative to the recent trend could suggest that retailers are cautiously optimistic about upcoming holiday sales,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which analyzes the data.

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample made 34,491 hires (seasonally adjusted) in November 2011, up 7.1% from a downwardly revised 32,205 hires in October 2011. The level of hires in November was roughly 8% above the 2010 average, continuing to indicate modest improvement following sharp declines during the recession.

The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample declined 10.8% to 812,673 in November 2011, from an upwardly revised 911,552 in October 2011.

The 60-day retention rate, measured as the number of hires who remain employed for at least the first 60 days divided by the total number of hires made in that month, edged up to 84.4% in July from 83.3% in June.