The Colorado Springs area unemployment rate for January remained unchanged from December at 7.5 percent, but the number of people in the local job market declined for a fourth consecutive month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
The January jobless rate was down a full percentage point from 8.5 percent in January 2013, but only because nearly 4,200 area residents left the job market during the past year - and more than 80 percent of the reduction came from the ranks of the unemployed. The 310,392 people in the job market in January was the fewest since April 2007 and has decreased in six of the past seven months.
Tom Binnings, a senior partner in Summit Economics LLC, a local economic research and consulting firm, attributed the shrinking number of people in the job market to an aging population that's retiring, and to young adults delaying job searches because of sluggish job growth. As the local economy gains strength, he expects job growth to accelerate and attract some workers back into the job market.
January payroll data confirmed a sluggish local economy, with payrolls growing at the slowest rate since September 2012 at just under 1 percent, or less than half the average job growth rate for last year. Job growth in the finance, tourism and professional and business services sectors was somewhat offset by declines in government and information technology sectors.
"This is disappointing; it shows that the local economy is still struggling," said Fred Crowley, senior economist for the Southern Colorado Economic Forum. "Not only are we not growing jobs very quickly, we are not growing the right kind of jobs in high-wage industries like manufacturing and health care."
The unemployment rate comes from a survey of residents, while payroll data comes from a survey of businesses.
January unemployment rates also remained unchanged from December in Boulder and Pueblo at 4.8 percent and 8.9 percent, respectively. The rate declined slightly in Denver and Fort Collins and fell sharply in Greeley. The jobless rate in Grand Junction increased slightly to 7.4 percent from 7.3 percent in the previous month.
Colorado's unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in January from 6.2 percent in December, while the U.S. jobless rate declined to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent in the same period.
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