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Kronos: Fewer people applying for retail jobs

CHELMSFORD, Mass. — The Retail Labor Index released by Kronos Inc. indicated that applications for retail jobs are waning.

The April Index, which characterizes the March 2012 state of the demand and supply sides of the labor market within the U.S. retail sector, prepared by Macroeconomic Advisers, was down slightly in March to a still solid 4.3%. (The index is defined as the ratio of hires to applications within a given month, expressed as a percentage. A level of 3% means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred).

The latest results were second consecutive reading above 4% and only the third reading of 4.0 or higher since October 2008.

The retailers representing 18,362 distributed locations across the United States that make up the Kronos data sample made 33,684 hires (seasonally adjusted) in March 2012, down 11.6% from February. While the level of hires in March was below the recent pace of hires (roughly 35,000 over the last six months), it was broadly consistent with the 2011 average and remains above levels seen in 2009 and 2010.

The number of applications received by retailers included in the Kronos sample fell 10% to 784,941 in March 2012 from an upwardly revised 872,341 in February 2012, all on a seasonally adjusted basis. The level of applications in March was down nearly 250,000 from its level one year ago, when applications reached a near record high. Applications have been trending downward since the second half of last year, and the sharp decline in March brought them to their lowest level since September 2007, just prior to the onset of the recession.

“With overall labor market conditions improving, potential applicants are likely seeking job opportunities in sectors outside of retail, consistent with the recent declining trend in applications for retail positions,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers.