Workforce Additions Help Colorado’s Unemployment Rate Tick Down To 2.7

Colorado’s unemployment rate has decreased a small amount — from 2.8 percent in May to 2.7 percent in June — reflecting slightly more participation in the workforce. Colorado now has the third lowest unemployment rate in the U.S., tied with Iowa and New Hampshire.

That’s good news for employers, who added more jobs than state economists expected in June. The latest figures show that faster-than-expected job growth continues, to the surprise of state economists.

Employers continued to add jobs between May and June, meaning that the state’s original estimate for job growth fell short for the second month in a row. The newest numbers from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment show private sector payroll jobs increased by 3,700, along with an increase of 500 government jobs — for a total of 4,200 nonfarm payroll jobs added.

Ryan Gedney, the senior state economist, said the most growth happened in professional services, hospitality and construction. Despite recent struggles to find restaurant labor, Gedney noted job growth in that area seems to be healthy.

According to the report, 9,800 more people participated in the workforce, and 10,800 people are now reporting themselves as employed. The uptick lowered Colorado’s unemployment rate slightly, in contrast to the national unemployment rate, which ticked up to 4 percent in June.

Among Colorado cities, Fort Collins had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.6 percent. Boulder, Denver and Greeley all had unemployment rates below 3 percent, with Greeley enjoying one of the fastest rates of job growth in the state. Gedney attributed that to the spike in oil prices.

“You can really see on the north and south ends of the state, kind of a different story,” Gedney said.

Pueblo continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the state at about 4.5 percent, higher than the national rate. The southern Colorado metro area has seen relatively unchanged, stagnant job growth for the past year.

Throughout the state, wage growth continues to be strong. Nationally, wage growth is at 2.5, slightly above the rate of inflation. Colorado’s rate is more than double that, reflecting a race to attract talent.

“I think this speaks to how tight Colorado’s market is,” Gedney said. “Wages are growing at a faster rate than the nation.”