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Kronos: Fewer people applying for retail jobs

CHELMSFORD, Mass. — The Kronos Retail Labor Index (RLI) rose to 4.5% in September, the highest reading in four years. (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.)

“While the higher level of the RLI implies better odds of employment for job seekers, it mostly reflects reduced competition rather than a pick-up in hiring,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder, Macroeconomic Advisers, which prepares the analysis and write-up. “Applications have dropped sharply since the middle of last year, and September’s decline left applications at their lowest level on record.”

According to Varvares, some of the recent decline in hiring may be attributed to firms holding on to employees longer, which was indicated by a higher retention rate at firms in the sample.

“In addition, the recent softening in the overall economy, especially household spending, has likely made retailers more cautious and resulted in delayed hiring decisions,” he said. “We expect retail hiring to pick up only as the recovery strengthens, improving employer confidence."