State main­tains his­toric un­em­ploy­ment fig­ure for 3rd straight month

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jesse Paul and Aldo Svaldi

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.

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