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JC Penney opened more than a thousand temp positions as it scrambles to survive its own retail apocalypse

5 months ago by Jon Marino in Earnings, Retail

JC Penney ($NYSE:JCP) is taking what could be one last shot at survival by loading up on temporary help. 

From June 8 to June 9, total job postings rose from 7,000 open positions to more than 9,000, according to JC Penney alternative data. 

Ordinarily a big rise in job postings is good news - but JC Penney is facing myriad difficulties. The company's shares plummeted another 13% Friday August 9 and JC Penney stock is trading for $0.60 per share. The New York Stock Exchange has threatened to de-list its shares if the stock can't rise above the $1 mark.  

From an all-time high of more than $80 per share and a post-crisis high of more than $40 per share, JC Penney's dependency on legacy real estate spots for sales and an inability to adapt to the e-commerce environment has the 117-year-old department store chain fending offbankruptcy rumors

Overnight - from June 8, 2019, to the following day - data reflects that JC Penney increased temporary job postings more than five-fold, from 266 to more than 1,700. Thinknum subscribers can access charts that track JC Penney job postings in all 50 US states - and, in just about every single one of them, the same data is reflected - proving the company's temp strategy isn't regional.

And - because we can also track the company's store count (not shown) - we can tell the company isn't hiring to support new stores, as JC Penney hasn't grown its footprint. In fact, it's expected to continue shrinking. Our map, below, tracks JC Penney stores mapped over the US over the last few years. 

JC Penney's temporary hiring spree isn't for every type of worker in the company. The company isn't looking for temporary executives. In fact, the company's data shows that nearly all of the jobs posted are for hourly store positions. 

JC Penney is very much an organization on the brink - between its deterioriated share prices and crumbling market share, not to mention several rounds of inept executives guilty of management malpractice - but the latest set of challenges may send the company over the edge and into Chapter 11. What's clear from the company's alternative data is that its leadership isn't going out in 2019 without a fight. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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