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As Colorado’s labor force participation falls, private-sector jobs increase

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(The Center Square) – Job growth in the private sector more than doubled the increase in government jobs in Colorado in January, but other data for the month in the state’s Department of Labor and Employment was mixed.

While job growth increased, the percentage of people in Colorado’s labor force decreased along with the number of individuals employed.

Employers added approximately 8,000 nonfarm positions from December to January, according to CDLE. Private sector jobs increased by 5,600 while government increased by 2,400 as the 2.96 million people were working in the state.

The employment increase in the private sector was the largest since last June. Colorado lost 6,200 private-sector jobs during the fourth quarter of 2023, according to an analysis by the Common Sense Institute, while government added 4,100 jobs.

Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment increased one-tenth of a percentage point in December to 3.4% in January. Last January, Colorado had an unemployment rate of 3%. The national unemployment rate of 3.7% was unchanged from December.

The increase translates into 2,600 additional people unemployed, bringing the state’s total to 110,200.

Approximately 68.1% of Coloradans were participating in the workforce, compared to the national rate of 62.5%. It marked a two-tenths of a percentage point decrease for the state or 2,500 people.

Colorado’s employment-to-population percentage of people over age 16 with a job was down two-tenths of a percentage point from December to 65.8%. The national percentage in the category increased one-tenth of a percentage point to 60.2% in January.

Professional and business services in Colorado added approximately 4,800 jobs in January, followed by manufacturing (1,700). Colorado lost 2,700 manufacturing jobs during the previous quarter. It was the highest monthly gain for the category for Colorado manufacturing since May 2020 when workers returned from pandemic shutdowns.

The largest monthly loss of jobs in the private sector was in trade, transportation and utilities at approximately 1,800.

Colorado’s rate of job growth during the last year is 2% and the national rate is 1.9%. Education and health services jobs in the private sector showed the biggest one-year gains in employment with approximately 15,300, followed by business services (10,600) and hospitality (9,600).

The average workweek, as measured by payroll hours, declined from 33.5 to 32.4 for all Colorado workers in private nonfarm jobs during the last year. However, average hourly earnings increased from $35.90 to $37.32, $2.68 higher than the national average of $34.55.

CSI’s analysis found the median weekly wage for a woman working in Colorado increased 36.3%, from $838 to $1,142, from 2017 to 2022. The rate was the third-fastest in the nation and followed Rhode Island (36.6%) and Oregon (39.5%).

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