Colorado adds nearly 4,000 jobs in May, the second consecutive month of gains

New construction on Broadway at University in Boulder
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Construction of a new convention center complex on Broadway at University in Boulder, June 15, 2023.

Colorado picked up 3,900 nonfarm jobs in May, marking the second consecutive month of employment gains.

The private sector added 2,800 jobs, while the government grew by 1,100 jobs, according to the most recent data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The unemployment rate, which is sourced from a different pool of data than the payroll reports, was unchanged at 2.8 percent. It hasn’t budged for several months.

But it wasn’t all good news. Changes in monthly estimates are common as new information trickles in, and April’s gains weren’t as large as initially reported. On top of that, some industries are faring better than others. For example, the leisure and hospitality sector has had back-to-back months of strong hiring, while financial activities recorded job losses in both months.  

Colorado’s monthly jobs statistics have been jumping around a lot this year, making it difficult to discern a clear trend. That makes it hard to say how well the state’s economy is holding up in the face of the Federal Reserve’s campaign to tame stamp inflation by raising interest rates. Interest rates have a more immediate impact on industries like real estate and finance, which have both been shedding jobs in Colorado.

Taking a step back from monthly numbers shows that leisure and hospitality is by far Colorado’s biggest job gainer for the past year, adding more than 21,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the state’s financial sector lost more than 10,000 jobs.

Wage growth is starting to slow, state economist Ryan Gedney said during a conference call with reporters. Hourly wages are up just shy of 4 percent in the first five months of 2023, compared to an increase of almost 8 percent during the same timeframe in 2022 when companies were in a post-pandemic hiring frenzy, Gedney said.

“We are seeing some cooling in wages,” he said.

In an unusual turn, Colorado’s job growth of 1.1 percent for the past year lags the U.S. rate of 2.7 percent.

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