Friday, March 1, 2013

First time unemployment claims surge 221 percent in January in Colorado

Reports the Denver Business Journal:

Colorado employers carried out 11 “mass layoffs” in January, with a total of 1,787 workers let go — the highest monthly total for the state in nearly three years — the U.S. Labor Department reported Tuesday. 
A mass layoff involves 50 or more workers at a time at a single workplace. Layoffs of that size must be reported to government officials under law.
The number of first time unemployment claims, generated by those mass layoffs, was up 221 percent in Jannuary 2013. There were 1,787 first time unemployment claimants in January, up from 556 during January of 2012.

The first graph shows the year-over-year percentage change in Colorado and nationwide. Nationwide, the change was 1.9 percent in first time unemployment claims, year over year. January's increase was the largest increase since 2009.

The second graph shows that the number of first-time unemployment claims was at the highest level reported since April 2010, and was at one of the highest levels reported in the past decade.

If we take the sum of each month plus the previous eleven months, we find that, while mass layoffs and first-time claims have been edging up recently, the numbers remain well below the highs reached during 2009 and 2010. 

January's report shows that there are still some headwinds in the employment trends in Colorado. As noted in our monthly analysis, Colorado remains more than 100,000 jobs below peak levels (in the Household Survey). The unemployment rate remains above 8 percent in Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction, and ongoing mid-size job losses continue to impact those areas. Mass layoffs do not necessarily lead to more unemployment, of course, assuming that there is new hiring going on. However, new hiring remains quite moderate in Colorado.