Colorado sees 5.6k job gains in August, though unemployment ticks up

Colorado employers ramped up hiring in August, but it wasn’t enough to keep the state’s unemployment rate from rising above 3% for the first time in 15 months.

Colorado’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose from 2.9% in July to 3.1% in August, and the number of unemployed workers rose by 4,700 last month. The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 3.5% to 3.8% over the same period.

The state added a net 5,600 new nonfarm jobs last month, with the private sector adding 9,100 jobs and government employers shed 3,500 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis.

July’s job gains, which initially came in at an anemic 800, were revised sharply higher to a gain of 3,400.

“The resiliency of the labor market may mean that Colorado will avoid a recession or significant downturn. That is great news as we head into the fourth quarter in a couple of weeks,” said Broomfield economist Gary Horvath in an email.

Senior state labor economist Ryan Gedney said in a news call Friday morning that he doesn’t think the job losses on the government side reflect a reversal in hiring, which has been strong this year.

Rather, the losses are on a seasonally-adjusted basis and seemed timed to the hiring by schools in August.

The reference week last month, when the counts were gathered, was Aug. 6-12 — a little bit earlier than usually seen and before many schools had started back.

It is possible that the August estimate for government hiring will be revised up next month, or that hiring that missed the reporting deadline will show up in the September report, he said.

The strongest gains came in leisure and hospitality, which added 4,700 jobs last month, followed by educational and health services, up by 2,800. Professional and business services counts rose by 1,600.

Besides government, four other supersectors shed jobs last month, including manufacturing; trade, transportation and utilities; financial activities and other services.

Over the past year, Colorado has added a net 42,700 nonfarm jobs, which represents a growth rate of 1.5%, below the U.S. growth rate of 2%.

Colorado, normally a leader in job creation, has ranked toward the bottom of this year.

Gedney predicts Colorado’s lagging job growth performance should move more in line with the U.S. growth rate, if not pass it, once revisions based on unemployment premium reports are made five to six months from now.

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