10,700 jobs added in December
The unemployment rate in Colorado drops to 3.5 percent.
Colorado added 10,700 jobs in December, wrapping up 2015 with a 3.5 percent unemployment rate, according to state labor data released Tuesday.
Over the year, nonfarm payroll jobs were up by 46,600, according to preliminary employment data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
If the December estimates hold, the new jobs— 10,000 in the private sector and 700 in government — would account for the largest monthly jobs gain of 2015. The monthly numbers are seasonally adjusted.
The preliminary unemployment rate for December matches the pre- recession low of 3.5 percent in April 2007. The last time Colorado’s rate fell below that level was May 2001, when unemployment was 3.3 percent, according to labor data.
The largest jobs gains from November to December were in construction, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality.
The only major sector to lose jobs was mining and logging, which recorded a month- over- month loss of 400 jobs to 34,100. The beleaguered cluster includes mining, quarrying, oil and gas, and natural gas extraction, and supports activities such as geology. The sector has shed 1,400 jobs in the past year, according to state labor force data.
State economist Alex Hall, mindful of sinking commodity prices and pressures in the fossil fuel industry, said she and state officials are watching for ripple effects that the declining oil and gas sector might have on the broader economy.
But right now, payroll jobs are climbing and unemployment insurance claims are averaging 10 percent below last year’s levels, she said.
“I think that bodes well for where we are,” she said.
Nationally, the unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent. Nonfarm payrolls increased in 36 states.
The unemployment rates in Colorado and the U. S. are down 0.7 percentage points and 0.6 percentage points, respectively, from December 2014.