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Colorado Springs-area jobless rate falls to five-year low

By: WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com
January 7, 2014 Updated: January 7, 2014 at 7:05 pm
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photo - The Colorado Springs-area's 7.8 percent jobless rate in November is the lowest in nearly five years. In this 2012 photo, Kathryn Retting, left, William Walters and Timithy Scrieter fill out a job application at a joob fair held at the Stargazers Theater. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
The Colorado Springs-area's 7.8 percent jobless rate in November is the lowest in nearly five years. In this 2012 photo, Kathryn Retting, left, William Walters and Timithy Scrieter fill out a job application at a joob fair held at the Stargazers Theater. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

The unemployment rate for the Colorado Springs area fell in November to the lowest level in nearly five years, but still remains nearly double what it was before the recession, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Tuesday.

The area's 7.8 percent jobless rate is the lowest since January 2009 and is down from 8.1 percent in October, the largest month-to-month drop since January and the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

The local unemployment rate was 8.9 percent in November 2012, the first time it had reached that level since late 2009. In February 2007, the rate was 4 percent.

The jobless rate for November 2013 declined mostly because the number of people in the labor force fell by nearly 2,700 since June, including nearly 2,000 listed as unemployed.

"The numbers may have been influenced by a late Thanksgiving and Black Friday, which could have delayed holiday season hiring until after the survey was done," said Fred Crowley, senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum.

November payroll data showed that the local economy added 3,000 jobs since November 2012, for a 1.2 percent growth rate. Payroll growth 2013 through November averaged 1.4 percent, the strongest since 2006, but about 1 percentage point slower than the statewide total during the same period. Most of the area's payroll growth has come from restaurants and bars, retailers and the health care industry with job losses happening in the financial services industry and professional and business services sector.

The unemployment rate is calculated from the results of a survey of residents, while payroll data comes from a survey of businesses.

Crowley said the job growth reflects growing consumer confidence but noted that job losses were concentrated in higher-paying industries.

Unemployment fell during November in all of the state's metropolitan areas, and Colorado's jobless rate fell to 6.5 percent in November from 6.8 percent in October to the lowest level since December 2008.

The local unemployment rate has declined 2.1 percentage points since peaking at 10 percent in late 2010, a smaller drop than Grand Junction, Greeley and Denver, but more than Pueblo, Boulder and Fort Collins.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7 percent in November from 7.3 percent in October and was the lowest since November 2008.

Unemployment rates in colorado metro areas

City November October

Boulder 5% 5.2%

Colorado Springs 7.8% 8.1%

Denver 6.3% 6.5%

Fort Collins 5.4% 5.5%

Grand Junction 7.6% 7.9%

Greeley 7% 7.3%

Pueblo 9.3% 9.5%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

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