Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Construction jobs plateau, leisure jobs rise

According to June's employment data, released July 22 by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, overall employment in Colorado fell again in June. Thanks to continued declines in the labor force, the unemployment rate also fell to 8.7 percent.

At the Division of Housing, we keep an eye on industries that are often connected to affordable housing and real estate trends.

Today, we'll look at job creation in the following industries: construction, leisure and hospitality, and retail.

Construction is a key indicator since it is connected to housing production. The construction jobs examined below include non-residential construction.

In the first chart, we can see that as of June 2011, construction jobs plateued from April through June following an extended period of decline in construction employment that lasted from the second half of 2007 to spring 2011. Since construction jobs peaked during July 2007, construction jobs have fallen 38 percent, or 64,000 jobs, but are up slightly from the post-recession low of 104,700 jobs experienced during April 2011. Since April, total construction employment has been up slightly from April's trough. Construction jobs experienced a similar plateau during the latter part of 2010, so it is unclear whether the current pause in construction job losses signals a recovery in total employment.

Unlike many industries, construction jobs did not drop to an initial low and then rebound.

Retail jobs, and jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry are key factors in the rural resort economies, and are also important statewide as sources of income for low-income households. In the chart below, we see that retail jobs have recovered somewhat.

Leisure and hospitality jobs, on the other hand, have recovered to a significant degree since early 2010 and have now exceeded peak levels.

In leisure and hospitality, total jobs are now up 1 percent, or about 8,000 jobs, over the June 2008 peak. From June 2010 to June 2011, total jobs increased 6.1 percent, or about 16,000 jobs.

Retail jobs have not recovered as much as those in leisure and hospitality. From June of last year to June 2011, total employment in retail is up about 300 jobs. Since the April 2008 peak, retail jobs are down 7 percent, or about 16,000 jobs.