Friday, October 21, 2011

Employment growth in Colorado hits 42-month high

Colorado gained 34,298 jobs in September 2011 compared to September of last year, and the non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell year-over-year from 8.4 percent to 7.6 percent. According to the most recent employment data, released today by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, total employment in September, not seasonally adjusted, rose to 2.502 million jobs. There were also 15,000 more people in the work force during September, compared to September 2010.

From September 2010 to September 2011, total employment rose 1.38 percent, while the labor force rose 0.55 percent. The total labor force in September included 2.71 million workers.

As can be seen in the second graph, total employment and total workforce size have increased month-over-month. Year over year, both total employment and the labor force rose together for the first time since August 2008. However, both remain well below the July 2008 peak.

The employment total is now 129,000 jobs below the peak levels experienced during July 2008 when there were 2.63 million employed workers. Compared to the labor force peak in July 2008, the labor force is now down by more than 57,500 workers.

In the third graph is shown the year-over-year comparisons, by percent, for total employment. September 2011 was the third month in a row showing a positive year-over-year change in total employment. This followed 33 months in a row of negative job growth in year-over-year comparisons. At 1.3 percent, the year-over-year percent change in total employment hit a 42-month high in September 2011. Between August 2008 and July 2011, no month posted a positive change in total employment when compared to the same month a year earlier.

The graph also shows the year-over-change in the labor force. Total labor force size rose from September 2010 to September 2011, and was the first time that the labor force has grown, year over year, since June 2009 . The labor force size had shrunk, year over year, for 26 months in a row from July 2009 to August 2011.

These numbers come from the Household Survey employment data, so the size of the workforce is dependent on the number of people stating that they are actively looking for work if not employed. Discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work are excluded.

The increase in employment, according to the Household Survey, is apparently being driven, at least somewhat, by an increase in self-employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Establishment Survey of employment, which is based on surveys of major employers, showed a decline of 3,900 payroll jobs in September. The Household Survey, on the other hand, showed a gain in jobs. So, it seems that at least some of the payroll positions lost are being replaced by jobs that are not tracked by the establishment survey. The Denver Business Journal reports on it here.