DENVER - Colorado unemployment dropped to 6.0 percent in April, the lowest level the state has seen since the beginning of the recession.
The state labor department said Friday that nearly 14,000 jobs were added between March and April, the 30th straight month of job growth. The leisure and hospitality industry, education and health services added the most jobs.
The last time the state's unemployment rate was 6.0 percent or below was in November 2008, when it hit 5.7 percent.
It was the same story throughout most of the country. Unemployment rates fell in 43 states last month, and half the states now have rates below 6 percent. The figures are a sign of widespread, if slow, improvement in the nation's job market.
Hiring is picking up as well. Employers added jobs in 39 states, while 10 states posted job losses. Nebraska reported no change.
Twenty-five states now have unemployment rates of 5.9 percent or lower. The Federal Reserve considers "full employment" to be between 5.2 percent and 5.6 percent. Rates at that level are considered "full employment" because if they fell lower, inflation could rise. But the relationship isn't exact. The national rate fell to 3.9 percent in late 2000 without causing a spike in prices.
Hiring wasn't the whole reason rates fell in many states: Fewer Americans also looked for work. The government doesn't count those out of work as unemployed unless they are actively hunting for jobs.
Nationally, businesses and government agencies added 288,000 new positions in April, the biggest burst of hiring in 2? years. The unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent from 6.7 percent.
Rhode Island reported the highest unemployment rate at 8.3 percent, followed by Nevada at 8 percent. Both states saw significant improvement, with Rhode Island's rate falling from 8.7 percent and Nevada's from 8.5 percent.
In Colorado, Broomfield economist Gary Horvath said the rate is "likely to continue to drop to the 4.0 percent range over the next couple of years and remain at that level. We have very quickly shifted from an employers market to a job seekers market."
Horvath noted that the average employment for the first four months in Colorado is 68,200 greater than last year.
"As the year progresses, I think the economy will remain strong and we will add more than 70,000 jobs for the year," said Horvath. "Nationally, there was strong job growth in Texas, California and Florida. In other words, the national economy is gathering momentum in other parts of the country which in turn bodes well for Colorado," said the economist.
Over the year in Colorado, nonfarm payroll jobs increased 70,900. Private sector payroll jobs increased 65,300 and government increased 5,500.