Monday, August 20, 2012

July Colorado employment up slightly over July 2011

Colorado gained 11,200 jobs in July 2012 compared to July of 2011, and the non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was flat year-over-year at 8.3 percent. According to the most recent employment data, collected through the Household Survey and released today by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and the BLS, total employment in July, not seasonally adjusted, rose to 2.52 million jobs year over year. The labor force also increased by 10,800 from July 2011 to July 2012.

In month-to-month comparisons, the (not-seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate fell from 8.4 percent during June 2011 to 8.3 percent during July. However, 14,300 jobs were lost month-over-month while 18,200 people left the work force over the same period.

From July 2011 to July 2012, total employment rose 0.4 percent while the labor force rose 0.4 percent. The total labor force in July included 2.74 million workers.

As can be seen in the second graph, total employment and total workforce size have fallen, month-over-month,  after a series of ups and downs in recent months. Year over year, both employment and the labor force grew. Since employment and the labor force grew at about the same rate, the unemployment rate remained flat. What we see overall is that both employment and labor force have been increasing in recent months, when compared year over year, although those increases remain small and often under 1 percent growth. 

The employment total is now 114,000 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 22,000 workers.The jobs deficit has been cut almost in half since 2010, although the 114,000 below the peak does not include the jobs needed for all the new entrants into the workforce since 2008. Under normal conditions, the labor force would grow by 25,000 per year. This is a conservative estimate. So, in the four years since mid-2008, the labor force would have grown by an additional 100,000.  This means that to truly bring the unemployment rate down to 5-6%, the state needs to add 200,000 new jobs.  

In the third graph is shown the year-over-year comparisons, by percent, for total employment. June 2012 was the 19th month in a row showing a positive year-over-year change in total employment. The 18 months of increases followed 28 months in a row of negative job growth in year-over-year comparisons.

The fact that total employment fell from June to July may be significant. Total employment has grown from June to July every year for the past seven years - except this year. This, coupled with a small annual growth rate and global economic issues, may signal a continued moderation in job growth.

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. On the other hand, the Household Survey picks up on small business and start-up employment that may be missed by the Establishment Survey, the other commonly-used measure of employment.

Note: This analysis reflects newly revised data released in January. In most cases, total employment was revised upward for the months of 2011.