State employment made an about-face last month adding 7,200 jobs, in the largest monthly gain in the past year.
The private sector added 6,500 jobs last month, after losing 1,700 in March, according to the most recent data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
“This is a rebound,” state economist Ryan Gedney said during a conference call with reporters.
The leisure and hospitality sector gained the most, adding 4,400 jobs in April. Professional and business services added 3,900 jobs. Meanwhile, the government, which has been a consistent bright spot in 2023, continued to add jobs last month. The state’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 2.8 percent.
Colorado’s monthly jobs statistics have been erratic, showing strong gains one month and losses the next. That’s making it difficult to tell how well the state’s economy is holding up in the face of the Federal Reserve’s campaign to cool the economy – and stamp out inflation – by raising interest rates.
“It can be a little tricky trying to gauge what’s going on with the movement,” Gedney said. “I just kind of play it out one month at a time, frankly.”
The most recent numbers are roughly in line with U.S. figures for April, although the state’s job growth is lagging annually. Colorado’s job market has grown 0.8 percent during the last year, compared with 2.6 percent nationally. In fact, Colorado has one of the lowest growth rates in the nation compared to a year ago, according to Gedney.
“That’s very atypical for Colorado,” he said.
The biggest yearly declines for the state were in finance and insurance, he said. That bucket includes real estate, which was the first part of the economy to get hit by rising interest rates.
The job market in Colorado and across the U.S. has confounded economists for the past year. The unemployment rate is holding at historic lows and job growth is relatively robust even as layoffs roll through the technology sector and rapidly rising borrowing costs make it harder for businesses to grow. Many economists predict the central bank’s efforts to tame inflation will inevitably lead to a recession. But so far, it hasn’t happened.
The share of Coloradans participating in the labor force rose to 68.6 percent in April.
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