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    Applications for Retail Jobs Hit Lowest Level Since 2007

    The Kronos Retail Labor Index has gradually trended higher since early 2010, reflecting significant gains in hiring but a relatively flat level of applications.

    CHELMSFORD, Mass. -- As the country still struggles amid high unemployment rates, less people are applying for work in the retail industry.

    The latest Kronos Retail Labor Index (RLI), which is the ration of hires to applicants within a given month, rose to 3.7 percent in June from a revised 3.2 percent in May as a decline in applications outpaced a moderate decrease in hiring, according to the report by Kronos Inc.

    The report noted that the RLI averaged 3.5 percent over the past year, which is below pre-recession levels, but above stats seen near the end of the recession and in the early recovery period. During that time, the RLI decreased from 5.1 percent in December 2007 to 2.3 percent in December 2009.

    Furthermore, since early 2010, the RLI has gradually trended higher, reflecting significant gains in hiring and a relatively flat level of applications received each month, Kronos added.

    Specifically, in a sample of retailers, Kronos found that the number of applications dropped to 900,164 last month compared to 1,149,879 in May. This, the report stated, was the lowest number of applications received since November 2007 and almost 17 percent below its level a year ago. In total, the sampled retailers hired 33,447 employees in June, compared to 36,710 new hires in May. However, Kronos pointed out in the report that, even with that low number, retailers in its sample made almost 30 percent more hires in June than they did in the first quarter of 2009.

    In addition, the report explained, 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 that month) fell to 83.3 percent in February from 84.4 percent in January.

    "While hiring did decline in June, it remains well above levels seen near the end of the recession and during the early recovery period," explained Chris Varvares, senior managing director and co-founder of Macroeconomic Advisers. "However, the recovery in hiring has slowed in recent months, with firms hiring just 6 percent more workers in June than they did this time last year. This is reflective of the deceleration in total payrolls seen nationally the past few months, as well as the recent slowing in the growth of retail sales. We look for these trends to reverse, with both payrolls and retail sales expected to accelerate over the second half of this year."

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