Report: Kronos retail labor index reaches near two-year high

Chelmsford, Mass. -- Kronos on Monday announced the release of its Retail Labor Index, which showed a February increase to 4.2% from 3.85% in January. (This metric is defined as the percentage of job applications that result in a hiring, normalized within a scale of 0 to 100. A level of 3.0% means that for every 100 applications received, three hirings occurred.)

February’s metric is the highest the Index has been since August 2008 when it reached 4.45%, according to Kronos.

The retailers representing 27,034 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample recorded 37,129 hirings (on a seasonally adjusted basis) in January, a significant 41.61% decrease from the December 2010 seasonally adjusted figure of 63,587. The January 2011 figure represents a 9.61% increase over the 33,873 hirings that occurred in January 2010.

The supply of applications also decreased significantly to a seasonally adjusted level of 883,843 in January. The January figure represented a 46.55% decrease from the 1,653,520 applications processed in December 2010 and a 39.41% decrease from the 1,458,728 applications processed in January 2010.

Employee retention, the percentage of employees remaining on the job 60 days or more, was 82.50% in January 2011, a decrease of 1.47% from December 2010 and the first notable drop in the past 12 months.

“Applications and hiring were down significantly this month, but the combination pushed the Index up to its highest point since August 2008,” said Dr. Robert Yerex, chief economist, Kronos. “Overall, 2010 was a year in which we saw retailers reduce their overall labor capacity by almost 10%.”