The Impact of Job Losses in the Oil and Gas Industry on the Colorado Economy

About a year ago the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry was turned upside down. Almost overnight the price for a barrel of oil plummeted.

Since dropping, prices for a barrel of oil have remained low, rig count has dropped, employment has declined, BUT production has remained at record levels.  At some point the disruption will become more settled and Colorado will move forward with a smaller oil and gas industry.

Projected revisions to the BLS employment data for Colorado suggest the oil and gas  industry could be reduced by 1,000 jobs for 2015.  Although the industry is small from an employment perspective, it is significant in terms of gross domestic product for the state and MSAs. This is particularly true in Mesa, Weld, and Denver counties. Much of the drilling occurs in Mesa and Weld counties and many of the headquarters or company offices  are located in the Denver MSA.

The IMPLAN model is designed to show how changes in employment or sales could impact the state economy. In this case, the Colorado Labor Market Information group has produced projections suggesting there will be a loss of 1,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry for 2015. The IMPLAN model indicates this will cause an additional loss of 1,800 indirect and induced jobs. In addition there will be a combined loss of $657 million in direct, indirect, and induced sales in the Colorado economy.

To date the robust mix of industries in Colorado has offset the job losses in the extractive industries. That is likely to continue for the remainder of the year and into 2016.

oil and gas industry



U.S. Job Recovery Slower than Colorado

Coloradans breathed a sigh of relief when the BLS released June data showing the state’s wage and salary employment finally returned to the 2008 peak. (For more information about the Colorado situation, click here.)

Nationally, it is a much different story. The U.S. is still about a year away from returning to the 2008 job peak.

U.S. employment topped out at 138.1 million in January 2008. By February 2010, the number of wage and salary jobs had plunged to 129.3 million, a decrease of 8.8 million workers.

At the end of July 2013, 6.7 million jobs had been added since the trough and employment had reached 136.0 million. Slightly more than 2.0 million jobs are needed to reach the pre-recession peak, or about 77% of the jobs have been recovered.

Over the past year, jobs have been added at a rate of about 190,000 per month. If they continue to be added at that rate, it will take another 10 months (May 2014) before the pre-recession peak is reached.

As a result of the Great Recession, the number of unemployed workers jumped from 7.7 million in January 2008 to 15.4 million in October 2010, i.e. the number of unemployed workers doubled. Since October 2010, the number of unemployed has declined to 11.5 million, a decrease of only 3.9 million.

For many Americans, the recovery from the Great Recession has been painful. For another group, the recovery will never happen.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

CDLE Data – Many Have Not Recovered from Great Recession

With great excitement the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced that the state’s wage and salary employment finally returned to its peak in 2008.

It took five years for the state to return to the pre-recession employment levels.


A closer look at the unemployment data is even more disturbing. As a result of the downturn, the number of unemployed workers increased by 123,500. To date, this number has only decreased by 51,300. In other words, the number of unemployed workers is 72,200 greater than five years ago.

Clearly, there are many in the state who have not recovered from the Great Recession and the addition of 150,000+ jobs!

For additional details about the performance of the state economy, go to the website or click here.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Colorado Job Creation Remains Lackluster

The recent release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Dynamics (BDM) dataset shows that Colorado job creation remains weak.

Unlike other job statistics, which report the change in net jobs, the BDM statistics measure gross job gains and gross jobs lost. The data is derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which explains why the lag in reporting is about 7 to 9 months.

Gross job gains were weak during 2010 and 2011, averaging 127,691 for the eight quarters. During the 7 previous quarters (Q2 2008 through Q4 2009), average quarterly gains were 124,895. This period included much of the 2007 recession. On average, gross job gains have been about the same for the period 2007 through 2011.

For the eight quarters in 2010 and 2011, average job losses were 120,452. By comparison, average job losses were 148,913 for the seven prior quarters (Q2 2008 through Q4 2009).

For 2010 and 2011, net job gains were primarily a result of reduced jobs losses and weak job gains. A variety of factors are responsible for this lack of job creation and ultimately the slow recovery.

In the chart below:
Heavy horizontal blue lines represent average gross gains for the period.
Heavy horizontal red lines represent average losses for the period.
Light blue lines represent quarterly totals (same as previous charts).
Light red lines represent quarterly totals (same as previous charts).

For additional information on the Colorado go to

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Colorado Unemployment Rate Up for Fourth Month in a Row

The Colorado unemployment rate rose for the fourth consecutive month and reached 8.3%. While the BLS indicated that this increase was not statistically significant, it is certainly significant to incumbents seeking re-election in November.

The unemployment rate is a metric that the public pays attention to. They view it as a sign that the economy is not improving – as promised. Specifically, more than 225,000 people are unemployed in Colorado.  The never-ending talk about the fiscal cliff, additional easing by the Federal Reserve, and other doom and gloom projections add to the concerns of the electorate and the woes of incumbents.
The increase to 8.3% is significant for another reason. This is the second consecutive month that the state unemployment rate has matched the U.S. Over the past decade, the Colorado rate has often been a half to a full point lower than the U.S. rate. Seldom has Colorado’s rate been equal to or higher than the nation.

The basic reason for the rise in the rate is that the size of the labor pool increased. In other words, a greater number of people began looking for jobs. Even though the public and private sector have been adding jobs for the past two years, they aren’t being added fast enough to absorb all of the interested workers.

On a positive note, initial job claims are declining. That means there are fewer layoffs.

Continuing claims are also trending downwards – ever so slowly. That means people are either finding work or their benefits have expired. The former is a positive sign, while the latter is not.

The most recent data release shows that after seven months, an average of 40,000 jobs have been added, or about 3,300 jobs per month. Two factors could cause 2012 employment to be less than 2011 (Last year the state added 33,000 jobs).

BLS periodically and systematically revises the unemployment and employment data. Revisions to the data could push the 2012 total downward (an upward revision is unlikely).

As well, there could be a downturn in employment. If employment drops to a monthly average of 23,000 for the last five months then the annual total would be 33,000, or the same as 2011.

The good news is that gross job losses appear have declined, there has been a slight increase in gross job gains, and more people are looking for work. While this scenario is not ideal, it is much better than having a rise in the unemployment rate caused by a drop off in gross job gains and an uptick in gross job losses.


©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Did the State Really Lose 6,900 Jobs in June?

It has been a tough summer for Colorado. There have been budgetary problems, wildfires, and shootings. At a time when state leaders have been touting how the state is recovering from the recession at a faster rate than the nation, The Bureau of Labor Statistics has announced that the state has shed 6,900 jobs (Seasonally Adjusted – SA) in June.

The non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) data for June tells a story that more closely reflects business activity on the street. A review of the second quarter for the past four years is shown below:

• 2009 2,252,500 workers
• 2010 2,226,100 workers, a decrease of 26,400 workers over Q2 in the prior year.
• 2011 2,257,100 workers, an increase of 31,000 workers over Q2 in the prior year.
• 2012 2,289,400 workers, an increase of 32,300 workers over Q2 in the prior year.

Another way to look at the July Colorado data is to think about the national employment data published in early July. It showed the nation added 80,000 jobs in June. On average, Colorado employment is about 1.7% of the nation’s total.

That means that if Colorado was growing at a rate comparable to the U.S. then the state should have added about 1,400 jobs in June. If Colorado was expanding at a faster rate than the U.S. then 2,000 to 3,000 workers would have been added. Either Colorado is in a lot of trouble or the loss of 6,900 jobs doesn’t make sense.

There are several reasons for this apparent disparity. First, the BLS recently reduced their funding to state agencies, they centralized monthly state estimates, and they revised the monthly employment estimation process with the intent of providing a “better product”. While that process may result in cost savings and greater efficiency within BLS, it appears that some of the monthly data may be less reliable and useful.

As well, the seasonal adjustment factors used to take out the effect of seasonality appear to be unreliable. Over the past decade the performance of the economy has been atypical, thus making it virtually impossible for the seasonal adjustment factors to effectively measure seasonal patterns. In other words, the SA data for June most likely does not reflect what is happening in the economy.

So, what does this mean?

The June data is preliminary. Possible updates may be made in the July, March 2013, and March 2014 revisions. Watch for updates and either work with the NSA data or use the preliminary SA data with caution.

Meanwhile, a review of the NSA data for H1 2012, shows that job growth has tapered off, in line with a project drop-off in growth of U.S. output. With marginally stronger output growth on tap for the second half, it appears the state is in line to add 35,000 to 40,000 jobs this year.

For additional details about the Colorado economy go to

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Slow Recovery Driven by Lack of Job Creation

Most employment data sets report net jobs gains (gross job gains minus gross jobs losses). The Business Employment Dynamics (BED) data set produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports gross changes in employment on a quarterly basis and provides insight into the recovery from the past two recessions.

Gross job gains occur when jobs are added by existing companies (openings) or new companies (expansions). Gross job losses occur when companies lay off some of their workers (contractions) or all of their workers (closings).

In the chart below the light blue lines represent quarterly totals for job gains and the light red lines represent quarterly totals for job losses. The data covers from Q3 1993 through Q3 2011 (this is the most current data).

Average gains and losses are calculated for the periods of expansion and decline. The heavy horizontal blue lines represent average gross gains for the period and the heavy horizontal red lines represent average losses for the period.

The following analysis shows Colorado gross job gains and losses with averages for the following periods.
• Q1 1993 to Q4 2000 (32 quarters or 96 months).
– In this period of expansion, gross job gains exceeded gross job losses in each of the 32 quarters. The

1990s were a period of innovation and growth. There was significant job churn. Gross job gains and gross losses increased at similar rates and were highly correlated.
• Q1 2001 to Q2 2003 (10 quarters or 30 months).
– In this period of decline, gross job losses exceeded gross job gains in 8 of the 10 quarters.

• Q3 2003 to Q1 2008 (19 quarters or 57 months).
– In this period of recovery, gross job gains exceeded gross job losses in all 19 quarters. The average job gains for the previous decline were similar to the average job gains for the recovery. The average level of job losses, layoffs or closures, determined whether the net change was positive or negative.

• Q2 2008 to Q4 2009 (7 quarters or 21 months).
– In this period of decline, gross job losses exceeded gross job gains in all 7 quarters. Gross job losses rose significantly while job creation took a nosedive.

• Q1 2010 to present (7 quarters or 21 months).
– In this period of recovery, gross job gains exceeded gross job losses in 6 of the 7 quarters. During the recovery, the deciding factor was the decline in the number of gross jobs lost. The increase in gross job gains was minimal.

Since 2000 the average number of gross jobs has steadily declined. The average number of gross jobs lost has been the determining factor in whether the net change was positive or negative. This lack of job creation, with new firms or existing companies, explains why the job recovery from both recessions has been so weak.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Construction Finally on the Uptick

Construction was hit harder than most employment sectors during the Great Recession. For a number of years Colorado has had an oversupply of construction workers, relative to other industries. That has significantly lengthened the time of recovery.

Nationally, seasonally adjusted employment peaked in April 2006 at 7,726,000 workers. The number of workers declined with the Great Recession and appears to have bottomed out in January 2011 at 5,456,000. A total of 2,270,000 workers lost their jobs over that 57 month period. Since bottoming out, only 95,000 construction jobs have been added in 14 months.

There was a similar pattern for Colorado, but not as severe. Construction employment peaked in July 2007 at 170,100. It declined with the recession and appears to have bottomed out at 110,400. A total of 59,700 construction jobs were lost over this 47 month period. Since reaching bottom, 6,500 construction jobs have been added in nine months.

To put this in perspective, national tourism employment moved from peak-to-trough-to-peak in 50 months, while it took Colorado tourism employment 44 months to make the same journey. It has taken the Construction sector longer to go from peak-to-trough than it took the tourism industry to lose jobs and regain them.

On April 24, 2012 Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post reported that the number of homebuilders in the state declined by 80%, a decrease of 2,903 to 616 builders.

Holy Moly Batman!

For additional information on the overall economy go to the website.

For additional information on the construction industry check out the report,Colorado’s Construction Industry – Impact Beyond the Hammers and Nails .


©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

Sectors Losing Jobs Have Higher Wages

Through the first 8 months of the year there are 7 sectors of the economy that have lost a net total of 25,100 jobs, compared to the same period last year.

Construction                                     -8,800
Financial Activities                            -4,200
Federal Government                         -3,400
Information                                       -3,400
B-to-B (Not Employment Services)  -2,600
Local Government (Not K-12)         -1,600
K-12 Education                               -1,100

These sectors account for 33.3% of total employment. Average wages for this mix of workers is about $56,600 compared to average annual wages for all employees of about $47,900 (calculations based on 2010 QCEW data). In other words, the average wages for the sectors that are losing jobs is significantly greater than the overall state average, based on 2010 data.

The 2011 prognosis is that each of these sectors will show job losses for the year (2011) and that average annual wages for the group will remain well above the overall state average.

For a comprehensive review of the Colorado economy visit the CBER website.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.

10 Years After 9/11 – Summary of Impacts on Colorado

This is the final post summarizing the way the economy has performed in the 10 years after 9/11. The series of posts began in early August and has included a review of tourism; construction, housing, and financial activities; retail sales and personal services; high tech and the military.


• From an employment perspective, tourism (accommodations and food services) has expanded in Colorado since 2001. Competitiveness within the industry has increased, as evidenced by the flat growth in output.

• In Colorado, the airline industry was “restructured” after 9/11.

• The impact of 9/11 was short term. These declines may have been offset by gains in emerging industries,
such as teleconferencing and other means of communications.

Construction, Housing, and Financial Activities

• Construction, housing (prices and foreclosures), and finance are all interrelated. A portion of today’s
problems can be tied to 9/11 and the 2001 recession. There was a mindset that the country could “spend” its way back to prosperity. That mindset created problems when overextended consumers lost their jobs or saw declines in the values of their houses.

• Construction output peaked in 2000 and has dropped-off since. From an employment standpoint, there was a slight decline during the 2001 recession. A much more severe drop-off began in 2008.

• Creative financing allowed financial employment to grow throughout the 2001 recession. Some of the
products that spurred that growth were problematic in the second half of the decade. In turn, layoffs in the
financial sector began in 2007 and have continued since. These declines are a function of lack of activity,
consolidation, automation, bank failures.

• Year-end equity market values are about the same in 2010 and 2000.

Retail Sales and Personal Services

• Sales of retail goods and personal services has become more competitive during the past decade, yet
employment has remained relatively flat. Increased savings in recent years may be an indicator that consumers learned from the 2001 and 2008 recessions that they have limited resources that can be allocated to the consumption of goods and services.

High Tech (Manufacturing; Information; and Professional Technical Services)

• Employment has dropped significantly as a result of increased efficiencies, outsourcing, and offshoring. At
the same time output has risen dramatically. MIPTS is the driver of the state economy. 9/11 played a role in the adoption of high technology goods and services (surveillance, security, teleconferencing, etc.)

• The U.S. military has increased their dependence on Fort Carson since 9/11.The movement of troops in and out of the base have had a noticeable impact on the El Paso County economy.

The “Lost Decade” was a turning point in the structure of the U.S. and Colorado economies. While 9/11 did not cause this transformation, it played a role in accelerating the change that occurred in some industries.

For additional information, see The Colorado Economy Ten Years After September 11, 2001 at in the Special Reports section.

©Copyright 2011 by CBER.