Colorado’s unemployment rate continued to fall in September, despite another month of above-average job gains linked to weaker-than-expected hiring in the public sector, according to an update Friday from Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment.
The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 5.9% in August to 5.6% in September, which equates to 10,100 fewer unemployed workers. Colorado ranks 35th for its unemployment rate, which is well above the US seasonally-adjusted rate of 4.8%.
Employers in the state added a net 5,100 non-farm jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis between mid-August and mid-September. This would have been a solid gain before the pandemic, but it is only 42% of the average monthly gain at the start of this year.
“While this represents a good number of jobs, it is lower than the February-July average, which was 12,000 jobs a month,” said Ryan Gedney, a senior labor economist at CDLE. In August, the state added 5,000 jobs as revised in July and September, not much better at 5,100.
Gedney declined to attribute the end of increased federal unemployment benefits to the drop in the state’s unemployment rate in early September. One of the conditions for receiving unemployment benefits is that recipients must prove that they are actively looking for work.
If the state’s economy continues to add jobs around last month’s pace, Colorado will not reach pre-pandemic employment numbers until January 2023, Chris Brown, vice president of policy and research at the Common Sense Institute, said in a research note Thursday. said.
Accounting for population benefits, Colorado employers are required to add 9,884 jobs a month to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2023.
“This recovery is like a bad cold, it seems like it takes forever to end,” said Broomfield economist Gary Horvath.
Gedney said weak employment gains over the past two months are linked to the delta variant with a rise in COVID-19 cases. But for months now, employers have complained that they cannot fill the vacancies and this can also stop the recruitment.
Horvath said that when he tried to schedule a furnace tune-up to get ahead of the recent falling temperatures, he was told that the earliest placement slot was January 25, a sign that technicians are in short supply. .
The biggest gains last month came in leisure and hospitality, adding 3,800 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities, up to 2,400 jobs; and professional and business services, 1,100 jobs. Government employment declined by 3,300, with much of the loss concentrated in local government employment in education.
Gedney said that reflects a disruption in hiring patterns in school districts tied to the pandemic, rather than fewer workers in schools. There appears to have been more recruitment in July than usual.
Although the overall pace of recruitment was disappointing, Brown said the report had some positive news on the share of mothers participating in the workforce. It is now back at pre-pandemic levels in Colorado, although the share of women participating in the labor force is 63.4%, or 0.75 points, down from where it was at the start of the pandemic.
Gedney noted that the state recovered 79% of the jobs it lost in March and April last year and ranks 17th among states on that measure.