RATES FOR UNEMPLOYED AT RECORD LOW
State maintains historic unemployment figure for 3rd straight month
The state’s unemployment rate in June stayed at 2.3 percent for the third straight month, maintaining its record low.
Colorado’s unemployment rate in June stayed at 2.3 percent for the third straight month, maintaining its record low — and more than a percentage point lower than it was in June 2016 — as private-sector jobs increased by 6,100 positions and government jobs by 400.
The state’s Department of Labor and Employment says the number of people actively participating in the workforce increased 10,300 from May, to 2,969,100, and the number of people reporting themselves as employed increased 10,500.
The number of unemployed, defined as workers without a job who actively sought one in the past month, dropped to 67,200 in June. That is the lowest count in Colorado since January 2001, when about 600,000 fewer people were in the state’s labor force, said Ryan Gedney, a senior economist with the department.
Colorado has claimed the nation’s lowest unemployment rate since March, but North Dakota emerged as a challenger after its unemployment rate dropped to 2.3 percent in June. Nationally, the unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage point in June to 4.4 percent.
U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, in Denver on Friday to address the American Legislative Exchange Council, said employers are struggling to fill 6 million open jobs, and emphasized worker-training programs.
“Colorado has a very low unemployment rate and is gifted with a great economy,” Acosta said. “States like Colorado should focus on apprenticeships.”
Broomfield economist Gary Horvath said worker shortages in Colorado are especially acute in health care, engineering, construction, technology and increasingly in education.
“The job growth is solid, but lackluster to what it might be if there was a larger source of qualified and trained workers. It is one of those coulda, woulda, shoulda situations,” he said.
Over the year, the labor department says the average workweek for all employees on private, nonfarm payrolls increased from 33.7 hours to 34.2 and average hourly earnings decreased from $26.80 to $26.75.
Business services, education and health services, and leisure and hospitality saw the largest job gains in June, with the largest over-the-month declines in construction and information.
Gedney, however, questioned the construction employment estimates for June, saying he didn’t think those moved lower.
Nonfarm payroll jobs increased 54,900 since June 2016, adjusting for seasonality,
with an increase of 51,600 in the private sector and an increase of 3,300 in government, according to the June employment report. The largest private sector job gains in the past year have been in trade, transportation, and utilities, as well as professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.
Leisure and hospitality hiring was especially strong in June, accounting for 23,400 of the 33,800 jobs added in June on a seasonally unadjusted basis. Gedney said many of those jobs are coming at restaurants and other foodservice companies.
Over the year, the state’s unemployment rate is down 1.1 percentage points from 3.4 percent, and the number of Coloradans participating in the labor force has increased by 83,100. The rate has been steadily dropping since February, when it was at 2.9 percent. In June 2016, the level was 3.7 percent.