Colorado recorded a surge in workers who described themselves as employed last month, which helped push down the state seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate to 6.4% from August’s 6.7% rate, according to a monthly update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
Colorado gained 63,400 employed workers between August and September, according to a household survey. That surpassed the 59,600 gain in the overall civilian labor force and the net 13,400 jobs employers reported adding last month.
September’s survey results continued a pattern of wild swings starting in March in the number of people describing themselves as either employed or unemployed.
“There’s been a lot of volatility in the transition in and out of the labor force,” said senior labor economist Ryan Gedney during a press call on Tuesday morning. But the trend overall shows a continued recovery.
Colorado’s gain in employed workers, measured through a household survey, was 4.7 times the gain in jobs that employers reported in a separate establishment survey last month. But the number of jobs added was three times the average monthly gain seen in pre-pandemic times, said Broomfield economist Gary Horvath.
Private-sector employers added 20,800 jobs, while public sector payrolls declined by 7,400, resulting in a net gain of 13,400 jobs. Since May, Colorado has gained back 194,100 of the 342,300 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April, Gedney said. That translates to a job recovery rate of 56.7 percent, which exceeds the U.S. recovery rate of 51.5 percent.
“The economic recovery from the pandemic has been stronger than anticipated,” Horvath said. “The recovery is not complete, but It is safe to say the economy has some momentum and the potential for stronger growth in 2021 and beyond, no matter which candidate is elected. ”
The biggest monthly gains in September came in leisure and hospitality, up 8,000 jobs; trade, transportation, and utilities, up 6,000 jobs; other services, which includes providers like nail and hair salons, up 2,100 jobs; education and health services, up 2,000 jobs and financial activities, up 1,800.
Declines in government employment appeared tied to layoffs of temporary workers hired by the U.S. Census Bureau and reduced hiring by schools, Gedney said.
Construction also shed 1,300 jobs between August and September, which could reflect the cold snap that hit the state right after Labor Day, he said. The freakish weather came just ahead of the reporting period.
Over the past year, employers report having 134,300 fewer nonfarm jobs, with 102,600 of those losses in the private sector and 31,700 in government. Colorado’s 4.8% decline in payroll jobs is not as severe as the 6.4% decline nationally.
The counties with the highest unemployment rates last month were Huerfano at 8.3%, Summit at 8.1%, Gilpin at 7.9%, Pueblo at 7.5% and Denver at 7.4%. County unemployment rates aren’t seasonally adjusted and compared to an unadjusted rate of 6.2% in Colorado.
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