August was an interesting month for employment news in Denver, with a little bit of news coming out on both sides of the spectrum. On the one hand, the state posted its first net loss of jobs in three years. On the other, the state’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in six years.
The first report, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that Colorado lost 700 jobs in August. This small decrease was the first time since 2011 that the number of jobs went down from one month to the next. Colorado had been gaining an average of more than 4,500 payroll jobs a month the last 12 months. The losses for the month were virtually all from the private sector, with government jobs remaining steady.
The other bit of news was more positive. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported that the state’s unemployment rate in August dropped to 5.1 percent, the lowest level in six years. The number represented a drop of 1.7 percent from the same point in 2013.
The two reports seem to conflict at first glance, but there are a few reasons behind the numbers. Household surveys showed that 2,200 more people counted themselves as employed in August. An additional 3,700 people dropped out of the workforce, meaning they were not working or seeking work.
Despite the loss in jobs, some industries like manufacturing and leisure-hospitality saw gains in jobs during the month of August. The industries that saw the biggest losses were professional-business services and construction.
For the year leading up to August, Colorado has gained more than 54,000 jobs, 49,000 of which came from the private sector. The industries that have seen the most growth in that period are education-health services, leisure-hospitality, and professional-business services. Additionally, average hourly wages increased over the one-year period from $25.51 to $26.02.
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