The Colorado Springs area added jobs last year at the fastest rate since 2006 - upbeat news that mirrored other employment reports in Colorado and across the U.S.
According to revisions to payroll data released Monday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado Springs added an average of 2,300 jobs to the totals for each month of 2013, increasing the year's employment growth rate to 2 percent from the previously reported 1.3 percent. It was the highest annual number since jobs grew at a 2.2 percent rate in 2006.
Revisions to data for the final quarter of 2012 also increased the growth rate for that year to 1 percent from 0.8 percent.
There was one down side to the numbers, however: The 2013 growth rate in the Springs area was two-thirds of the state's 3 percent rate and lower than four of the state's six other metropolitan areas. Greeley had the state's highest job growth at 5.2 percent, while Grand Junction had the lowest at 0.7 percent.
The bureau's revisions also increased the state's growth rate to 3 percent from a previously reported 2.4 percent, That marks Colorado's highest number since a 3.8 percent growth rate in 2000.
Each year, the bureau revises payroll numbers by replacing estimates generated from monthly surveys of a small group of employers with data from unemployment insurance reports that most employers submit quarterly.
"That is great news because it comes despite the loss of jobs we are seeing in the defense sector. That means that job growth in the private-sector is more than making up for the defense cuts," said Tom Binnings, a senior partner in Summit Economics LLC, a local economic research and consulting firm.
But, he cautioned: "I don't know that we will be able to maintain a 2 percent job growth rate this year because of the continuing cuts in the defense budget and the slowdown we are seeing in the housing industry."
The biggest revisions added 1,600 jobs to the financial services industry and subtracted 1,000 jobs from the tourism industry. Along with construction, they were the three fastest-growing sectors in the local economy last year with growth rates of more than 4 percent from 2012.
All sectors but government, information technology and manufacturing added jobs during 2013.
The revisions put the Springs closer to recovering the jobs it lost in the recession, but still leaves January's total 4,500 jobs below the September 2006 payroll employment peak of 262,400. Colorado and every metro area in the state but the Springs and Grand Junction have recovered the jobs they lost in the recession. If local payroll job growth continues at the current rate, however, the Springs would recover all of the jobs lost in the 2008 recession by the end of this year.
In other encouraging jobs news, the U.S. Labor Department reported Monday that unemployment rates fell in 43 U.S. states in January as more Americans began looking for work and most quickly found jobs.
The unemployment rate rose in just one state - Iowa - where the rate increased to 4.3 percent from 4.2 percent. Still, that's far below the national rate of 6.6 percent that month. Rates were unchanged in six states.
Colorado's unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent in January, continuing a downward trend from last year and marking the lowest rate since December 2008. In December, Colorado posted an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Monday employers added 7,300 payroll jobs from December to January, for a total of 2.41 million jobs.
The Colorado unemployment rate peaked at 9.1 percent in October 2010 and has declined since then.
The Associated Press contributed to this report