Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Colorado Springs area unemployment rate falls to 4-year low

by WAYNE HEILMAN wayneh@gazette.com - Published: May 2, 2013

The Colorado Springs area job market continued to improve in March with the area's unemployment rate falling to a four-year low despite the start of automatic federal budget cuts, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.

The 8.3 percent jobless rate for March is the lowest since February 2009, down from a revised 8.4 percent in February and 9.4 percent in March 2012. The area's unemployment rate has dropped from the previous month for nine consecutive months, the longest such streak since at least 2000.

'I am very pleased with the positive signs we are seeing in the local economy, ' said Tom Binnings, a senior partner of Summit Economics LLC, a local economic research and consulting firm. 'We are seeing companies investing and expanding as the economy improves, and the local economy is benefitting from improvement in the homebuilding and home improvement industries as well as spending by troops returning to Fort Carson. I am still expecting some softening from sequestration (automatic federal budget cuts), but the impact so far hasn't been as dramatic as anticipated. '

The bureau also released data for 2010-2012 from its annual revision of unemployment and other information stemming from its monthly survey of households. The revisions reduced the area's unemployment rate for the previous nine months by an average of 0.2 percentage points, but increased the jobless rate for nearly every month between mid-2010 and mid-2012 by between 0.1 and 0.6 percentage points. The revisions mostly added residents to the local job market that surveys had shown to have stopped looking for work but instead were holding jobs.

The revisions show that the number of area residents holding jobs has increased by 5,539 in the past year, just 461 jobs short of Mayor Steve Bach's goal of adding 6,000 civilian jobs a year that he announced in August.

Local payrolls also continued to expand in March, growing 1.3 percent from a year earlier to 253,900; more than half of the growth came from the leisure and hospitality industry, while the health care and retail industries each added 800 jobs over the past 12 months. Financial services, manufacturing and information technology were the only industries shedding jobs during the past year, while payrolls in the professional and business services industry, which includes many defense contractors, remained unchanged. The payroll data comes from a survey of employers.

Unemployment rates fell in March in all seven of Colorado's metropolitan areas, with Boulder reporting the lowest rate at 5.3 percent and Pueblo reporting the highest at 10 percent. Colorado's jobless rate fell from 7.2 in February to 7.1 percent in March, the lowest rate in more than four years.

The nation's unemployment rate declined from 7.7 percent in February to 7.6 percent in March, the lowest rate since the end of 2008. The April jobless rates will be released Friday for the nation, May 17 for the state and May 29 for the area.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman

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