Colorado’s jobless rate edged down by one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.8% in March, which continues an 11-month steak of rates below 3% that were common before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported Friday.
The latest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate brings Colorado closer to matching its record low of 2.4% that was set three times in 2017, Labor and Employment Department figures show.
The number of unemployed Coloradans dropped to 91,000 in March, down 1,700 from February, according to a survey of households that determines the unemployment rate.
The latest numbers exacerbated Colorado’s extremely tight labor market, which has been sustained for almost a year, said Ryan Gedney, the Labor and Employment Department’s principal economist.
“You’re basically at a point where anyone who wants a job can find a job,” Gedney said during a conference call.
And workers are.
The number of Coloradans employed rose by 11,900 in March, as did the rate of state residents participating in the workforce, which ticked up to 68.5% from 68.3% in February.
The U.S. labor force participation rate was 62.6% in March, up one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month.
“You can see that the state’s rate is a lot higher than the U.S.” Gedney said of workforce participation. “I haven’t looked at the rankings just yet. But for February, both metrics ranked top four nationally, so I don’t think that will change — if anything (it) will probably improve.”
Colorado’s low unemployment trend mirrors that of the U.S. and tied Iowa and Minnesota for the nation’s 15th lowest jobless rate in March.
But Colorado’s survey of businesses, known as the establishment survey, showed a somewhat different picture and a weaker labor market.
The state lost 6,200 private sector payroll jobs from February to March, according to the establishment survey.
“I think I’m probably leaning more towards the household survey being a more accurate reflection of what the state’s labor market economy looks like,” Gedney said. “It follows more with what we see with the U.S.”
Job losses of that magnitude haven’t been seen since December 2020, when a wave of COVID-19 business restrictions were put in place and followed shutdowns earlier that year, Gedney said.
Some explanations for the job losses shown in the establishment survey might have to do with its timing; it took place later in the month than usual, Gedney said. Another reason might be because employers are changing their hiring habits, he said.
“It is odd to see that large of a loss,” Gedney said, later adding, “it’s something we’re looking into, it’s possible this could be a blip.”
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