December Nonfarm Jobs Data for Colorado – Lackluster Growth

Today, BLS released December unemployment and employment data for Colorado. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the state dropped to 3.5%. This is significantly lower than the U.S. rate of 5.0%.

Workers will benefit from lower unemployment rates, but lower rates are generally bad for businesses. In many cases companies are not able to fill critical positions. In turn they are forced to hire unqualified workers, pay overtime, or leave money on the table.

Nationally, 25 states posted declines in their December unemployment rates compared to November. There were increases in 14 states and no change in the rates for 11 states and the District of Columbia.

BLS reported lackluster nonfarm job growth in Colorado in December. This level of growth is in line with the pattern for U.S. seasonally adjusted nonfarm job growth. On a seasonally adjusted basis there were 10,700 more workers in December than November.

To that point, there was strong growth across the country. Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 36 states and the District of Columbia and it decreased in 14 states.

Looking at U.S. job growth on a quarterly basis there was weak employment growth in Q3, but strong growth in Q4. Given this trend nationally, it stands to reason that Colorado is following that same pattern. The data is in line with the level of activity on the streets.

The data indicates that Colorado added about 20,000 jobs in Q4, after no job growth in Q3.

On March 14th BLS will release its employment benchmark data for 2015. That data will more accurately tell the story of 2015 nonfarm job growth in Colorado.

nonfarm job growth



The Decline in Colorado’s Unemployment Rate – Good and Bad News

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released their latest job numbers for Colorado earlier today and there were no surprises. Growth continues to be solid and the unemployment rate is trending downward.

It is great to see the overall rate of unemployment drop; however, there is a downside. Barring a recession, the rate is likely to continue to drop to the 4.0% range over the next couple of years and remain at that level for an extended period of time. We have very quickly shifted from an employer’s market to a job seekers market.

The rate of unemployment for some occupations is now below 3.0%, for example, the management and professional occupations. It is good news that business is strong; however, it is bad news because it is not possible to find enough qualified workers to produce goods or provide services.

Since all industries require managers, the shortage of people to fill management occupations crosses all industries. The shortage in some professional occupations is in Colorado’s high-tech sector. It is good news there is growth, but bad if it hurts the local economy.

Nationally, the food preparation industry is another example where there is a substantial decrease in the unemployment rate. Over the past year the rate has dropped from 8.8% to 7.1%. This means it will be more difficult for many of the state’s restaurants to find an adequate number of workers.

As the construction industry has improved, the unemployment rate in the construction and extraction occupations have fallen from 14.3% to 9.8%.

While that is good news, it is estimated that 700,000 construction workers have left the industry. In other words, there is a shortage of trained workers.

The good news that is associated with the declining unemployment rates means there will be greater competition between industries for workers.

Eventually this will result in increased wages. That is good for the workers, but may cause the price of goods and services to increase.

Such is the case in economics, it seems that every story has an upside and a downside.

Colorado is on track to add 71,000 jobs in 2014.

Year-End Colorado County Unemployment Rates for 2013 Range from 3.2% to 12.3%

The year-end 2013 state unemployment rates were recently released and Colorado posted a not-seasonally adjusted (NSA) rate of 5.9%.

The county unemployment rates were the lowest in:

  •  Yuma 3.2%
  •  Cheyenne 3.2%
  •  Kiowa 3.3%.

The metro counties with the lowest rates were:

  • Boulder 4.4%
  • Larimer 4.8%
  • Broomfield 5.3%

The county unemployment rates weret he highest in:

  •  Costilla 12.3%
  •  Saguache 10.3%
  • Huerfano 10.2%

The metro counties with the highest rates were:

  •  Pueblo 8.6%
  •  El Paso 7.2%
  •  Mesa 6.9%

 county unemployment rate

The NSA year-end county unemployment rates  are listed below.




Adams County 6.5   Kit Carson County 3.8
Alamosa County 7.0   La Plata County 4.7
Arapahoe County 5.7   Lake County 5.5
Archuleta County 7.0   Larimer County 4.8
Baca County 3.5   Las Animas County 9.0
Bent County 7.5   Lincoln County 4.0
Boulder County 4.4   Logan County 4.7
Broomfield County 5.3   Mesa County 6.9
Chaffee County 5.6   Mineral County 6.8
Cheyenne County 3.2   Moffat County 5.2
Clear Creek County 5.3   Montezuma County 7.0
Conejos County 9.3   Montrose County 8.5
Costilla County 12.3   Morgan County 5.2
Crowley County 9.6   Otero County 8.0
Custer County 6.6   Ouray County 4.9
Delta County 7.3   Park County 6.0
Denver County 6.2   Phillips County 4.0
Dolores County 6.4   Pitkin County 5.8
Douglas County 4.7   Prowers County 5.0
Eagle County 5.2   Pueblo County 8.6
El Paso County 7.2   Rio Blanco County 4.7
Elbert County 4.6   Rio Grande County 8.6
Fremont County 8.1   Routt County 4.5
Garfield County 5.8   Saguache County 10.3
Gilpin County 5.4   San Juan County 6.4
Grand County 4.6   San Miguel County 5.0
Gunnison County 5.5   Sedgwick County 4.1
Hinsdale County 3.4   Summit County 4.1
Huerfano County 10.2   Teller County 6.9
Jackson County 3.6   Washington County 4.0
Jefferson County 5.4   Weld County 6.1
Kiowa County 3.3   Yuma County 3.2

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.