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Colorado unemployment rate remains nation's lowest at 2.3 percent

June 19, 2017 Updated: June 19, 2017 at 12:56 pm
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This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File).

Colorado's unemployment rate remained unchanged in May at 2.3 percent and was the lowest rate in the nation for the third consecutive month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

The April and May jobless rates also are the state's lowest in bureau records dating to 1976 and the number of people looking for work - 67,383 - is the fewest since February 2001. Nearly 600,000 people have joined Colorado's job market in the 16 years since then. The rate remained unchanged even though more than 14,000 people joined the state's job market in May because the number of jobholders in Colorado grew by more than 15,000, reducing the number of unemployed by 934. Colorado's unemployment rate was 3.4 percent in May 2016.

"As the labor market tightens, the pool of available workers for new and expanding businesses gets smaller. That is becoming an issue. The state's job growth rate is compressed because companies can't fill positions they have open," said Ryan Gedney, senior economist for the state labor agency.

After Colorado, the next lowest unemployment rate was 2.5 percent in North Dakota. Alaska and New Mexico had the two highest jobless rates at 6.7 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively. Unemployment rates fell in May in nine states, were higher in three states and unchanged in 38 others.

Colorado employers added 10,600 jobs to payrolls last month, the most since January, with most of the gains coming from the trade, transportation and utilities sector as well as the education and health services sector, more than offsetting losses in the manufacturing and business and professional services sector. Colorado has added 62,000 payroll jobs since May 2016, a 2.4 percent growth rate. The payroll data comes from a survey of employers, while the unemployment rate is calculated from a survey of households.

The average work week for employees on payrolls fell to 33 hours in May from 33.9 hours in May 2016, and average hourly earnings fell 7 cents to $27.24 during the same period.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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