The Kronos Retail Labor Index released today increased slightly in August to 3.00 percent. This is the highest the Index has been since December of 2008. Following is a guest commentary on the August results from Kelley Northrop, Senior Analytic Consultant at Kronos.
This month’s results show that the pace of hiring in retail increased slightly in August, to 3.00 percent, up from 2.99 percent in July. (An Index level of 3.00 percent means that for every 100 applications received, three hires occurred.) The Index has been on a slight upward trend since January, potentially indicating that a slow recovery in the job market has begun. We will all be watching the 2009 holiday hiring season to see if retailers feel confident enough to increase their hiring rates over 2008 and, if so, whether they take a proactive or a reactive approach to hiring.
One feature of this month’s publication is insight into how the Index might act as a leading indicator of retail sales levels. When comparing the Commerce Department’s retail sales figures over time to Index levels over time, it appears that the large decline in retail sales in 2008 was preceded by a reduction in hiring by retailers, which accelerated throughout 2007. It appears that the Index’s ability to capture “on the ground” hiring decisions by retail managers may also serve as a way to reflect their expectations of future sales.
For more information on this month’s results, visit the Retail Labor Index website.