Colorado’s unemployment rate continued to fall in March, dipping to 7.1 percent, the state Department of Labor and Employment reported Friday.
The rate slipped a tenth of a percentage point from February and is down from 8.2 percent in March 2012. The state rate is also below the national unemployment rate in March of 7.6 percent.
The decline came amid modest job growth; nonfarm payroll jobs increased 500 in March, according to the report; prvivate sector jobs increased 1,100 while government shed 600 jobs. The largest private sector gains were in professional and business services, education and health services, and construction; the largest declines were in trade, transportation and utilities, financial activities and manufacturing.
“This is not the strong growth we’re used to seeing from the past six months or so,” said Alexandra Hall, chief economist for the Department of Labor and Employment. In February, payroll jobs had surged by 11,000.
Federal budget cuts took effect March 1; while Hall said it is “a distinct possibility” that those cuts curtailed job growth, she said it’s too early to gauge the cuts’ impact or determine whether the growth of the past several months has been derailed.
“It’s possible that this 500 is just kind of a pause and that growth will continue,” she said.
Job estimates are based on a survey of business establishments and government agencies. The unemployment rate is based on a survey of households.
Colorado was one of 26 states that saw unemployment rates decline in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seven states posted increases and 17 states saw no change. Nevada, at 9.7 percent, had the highest unemployment rate among the states in March. North Dakota continued to have the lowest jobless rate, 3.3 percent.