Colorado unemployment dips to 8.5 percent in June | AspenTimes.com

Colorado unemployment dips to 8.5 percent in June

Catherine Tsai
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – Colorado’s jobless rate fell in June for a fourth straight month, but this time it’s because there are fewer people in the overall workforce rather than more people with jobs, state labor officials said Friday.

Colorado’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate based on household surveys was 8.5 percent in June, down from 8.7 percent in May and 8.8 percent in June 2010, the state Department of Labor and Employment said.

The department adjusts the rate to account for seasonal differences like teachers, students or construction workers looking for summer jobs, but fewer people joined the summer workforce this year than would be expected if the economy were stronger, said the department’s chief economist, Alexandra Hall.

“We still haven’t gotten to a point where we see consistent or even moderate job growth that tells us we are unquestionably growing again,” she said.

Employers added 4,500 nonfarm payroll jobs from May to June, according to business survey results. Household surveys showed there were about 5,800 fewer Coloradans with jobs, but the labor force shrank by about 10,500 people, causing the unemployment rate to drop, the department said.

About 2.45 million Coloradans were employed in June, and about 228,400 were looking for work, labor officials said.

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Nationally, the unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in June.

Colorado typically adds thousands of leisure and hospitality jobs in the summer. When adjusted for seasonal differences, the state gained an estimated 7,200 leisure and hospitality jobs from May to June, the Labor Department said.

Hall cautioned that the number could be adjusted downward but said good snowfall and river levels have boosted interest in rafting, strengthening the tourism industry over the past several months.

The financial activities sector added 1,000 jobs from May to June, as did the professional and business services sector. That’s good news, since those workers tend to earn higher wages and support other jobs.

“Those are types of workers who pay for more services, patronize the local coffee shop and spread that money around,” Hall said.

The state also gained employment in mining and logging, information, and educational and health services.

However, Colorado lost 2,600 government jobs, about 1,000 manufacturing jobs and 700 construction jobs, and 900 jobs in other services, according to seasonally adjusted figures.

Colorado has lost 8,900 construction jobs in the past year, or a drop of 7.8 percent.

“The issue we’ve been facing since the housing collapse is that not only do we have this inventory of unsold homes, but because of changes to credit requirements for mortgages, we’ve shrunk the potential market of buyers for homes,” Hall said.

Including part-time workers who want full-time work and job seekers who have given up the search, about one in six Coloradans want a full-time job, according to labor officials.

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