Don’t expect those help-wanted signs to go into storage just yet. After shedding jobs in March, Colorado employers started adding them back again at a brisk pace in April, according to a monthly update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment released on Friday.
For most of last year and this year, hiring in the state has followed a yo-yo pattern, with alternating strong and soft months. March gave a strong head fake to the downside with initial estimates of 4,700 nonfarm jobs lost. But those losses were revised to a more modest drop of 1,700 jobs after more employers reported.
And April hiring showed renewed strength, with 7,200 jobs added, the strongest monthly jump in a year.
“We do see this sawtooth effect in the establishment survey,” said Ryan Gedney, the state’s senior labor economist, on a call Friday morning to discuss the April numbers.
Monthly gains were strongest, up 4,400, in leisure and hospitality, led by robust hiring at hotels and restaurants. Professional and business services, a source of higher-paying jobs, rose by 3,900. And warmer weather helped revive construction hiring, which was up by 1,800 on the month.
On the downside, a catch-all category known as other services fell by 2,100; financial activities fell by 1,400; and trade, transportation and utilities, which includes retailers, dropped by 1,400. Higher interest rates appear to be weighing on financial services, with losses last month concentrated in real estate.
Colorado counted 1,800 fewer unemployed individuals in April than in March, bringing the total to 89,300 on a seasonally-adjusted basis. But the decline wasn’t enough to move the unemployment rate, which held at 2.8% and remains significantly below the U.S. rate of 3.4%.
Stripping out seasonal adjustments, Colorado’s unemployment rate reached 2.4% in April, down from 2.7% in March. Raw unemployment rates are now approaching the record low of 2.3% reached briefly in 2017 and again in 2019, Gedney said.
Colorado residents also remain highly engaged in working or looking for work, as shown in a labor force participation rate that reached 68.6% in April, up from 68.5% in March. It is solidly above the U.S. rate of 62.6% and ranks fourth highest among states.
Drilling down to those in the “prime” working age, defined as 25 to 54, the state had a participation rate of 84.8%, which surpassed 2019’s 84.7% rate, Gedney said. The all-time high of 85.3% was reached in 1999 and the prime-age participation rate seems to indicate there is even less slack in the labor force and employers will need to focus more on younger and older workers for staffing.
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