The Colorado Springs job market remains strong, but not nearly as strong as recent monthly numbers from a federal agency would suggest, according to a report from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this month that the Springs area added nearly 15,000 jobs in the 12 months ending Oct. 31, the latest quarterly numbers indicate the area is adding jobs at a much slower rate. El Paso County added 5,512 jobs between the second quarter of last year and the second quarter of 2018, according to data released Wednesday by the state labor agency.
While the reports cover two different periods, the quarterly data is considered more reliable than the monthly data since it comes from unemployment insurance reports most employers are required to file, while the monthly data comes from a survey of employers. The monthly data for the second quarter estimated local job growth from a year earlier at more than 9,600.
“The fundamentals of the local economy are still strong, but we are seeing a lower growth rate,” said Tatiana Bailey, director of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Economic Forum. “The area is now growing at a more sustainable rate than it did in 2015 and 2016, when the local job market rebounded very strongly from all of the job losses in the last recession.”
The 2 percent employment growth rate in the second quarter, when compared with a year earlier, is the second slowest since the beginning of 2014. Job growth averaged 2.4 percent in the second quarter of 2017.
Ryan Gedney, senior economist for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, said the area’s job growth for the second quarter will be revised lower by 3,900 jobs when the Bureau of Labor Statistics completes an annual revision of the monthly data in March. That revision incorporates the more reliable quarterly data.
Nearly three-fourths of the jobs added from the second quarter of 2017 to the second quarter of this year came from the health care and professional-technical services sectors, which each grew by nearly 2,000 jobs. However, the area also lost more 1,000 jobs in the administrative and waste services and other services sectors, which includes many of the area’s call centers. Five call centers employing more than 1,000 people have closed since Dec. 31. Slowing growth in the hotel-restaurant and construction sectors also played a role in slowing job growth.
The slower growth comes as the area’s unemployment remained just above 3 percent, reflecting a tight job market that might be holding back hiring by local employers, Bailey said. In a sign of a tightening job market, the average weekly wage in the second quarter rose 4.1 percent to $936, the biggest increase since the first quarter of 2017.
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