After losing jobs in January, Colorado’s job market picked back up in February

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Amazon workers at the the company’s facility on Himalaya Road in Aurora sort and then move trolleys loaded with packages to an area where they will be loaded on trucks for delivery. Dec. 6, 2022.

Colorado’s job market picked up in February following a lackluster January.

The state added 6,200 nonfarm jobs last month, according to the most recent data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. That’s an improvement over the month before when Colorado lost 700 jobs, the data show.

The construction sector saw many of the losses in January. It's an industry especially vulnerable to bad weather, according to state economist Ryan Gedney.

The unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 2.8 percent to 2.9 percent. But at the same time, more people joined the workforce in February, Gedney noted. The Boulder area had the lowest rate at 2.7 percent, while Pueblo was on the opposite end of the spectrum at 4.6 percent.  

The job market, both nationally and in Colorado, is holding up reasonably well to the Federal Reserve’s campaign to get inflation under control by raising interest rates. Higher interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money, which should eventually bring prices under control. But at the same time, those higher rates cut into spending power and make it harder for businesses to grow and invest, leading to job losses.

Economists have watched the job market for signs of a recession for the past year. It hasn’t yet arrived, but the odds of a downturn appear to be going up, Gedney said during a conference call with reporters.

“It’s certainly something I’m looking at,” Gedney said. “But at this point, I’m still expecting the status quo until we see otherwise.”

Some parts of the economy, like technology and housing, have slowed. Large layoffs at companies like Amazon and Facebook are making headlines across the U.S. On top of that, recent turmoil in the banking industry is putting people on edge.

“There’s … friction within the banking sector, friction within the tech sector,” Gedney said.

In fact, during the past 12 months, the financial activities sector in Colorado shed 3,600 jobs. By comparison, the leisure and hospitality sector added 19,200 jobs during the same timeframe.

On a monthly basis, the financial sector showed no change in the number of jobs in February. The accommodations and food service sector led gains with 1,900 roles added, followed by government, with 1,800 new roles.