Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Payroll employment hits new high for April, labor force size returns to peak levels

Total non-farm employment in Colorado, measured by the Establishment Survey, reached the highest level yet recorded for April. During April, total employment hit 2.3 million jobs, which was the highest level recorded during any April. This follows numerous months in which the monthly total reached a five-year high but did not return to peak levels.

Peak levels were reached during late 2007 and early 2008 in most cases.

The first graph shows Establishment Survey employment totals for each month since 2003. Note that for April the yellow column (2013) is slightly higher than the red column (2008) and all other April columns.  Comparing April 2012 to April 2013, total employment grew 61,000 jobs.

 The year-over-year percent change in employment was also positive, and in April, grew at a rate similar to what was common during the last recovery (2003-2008). The second graph shows the year-over-year change in employment of 2.6 percent (Establishment Survey):

When viewing the other measure of employment, the Household Survey, we find that employment hit a five-year high for April, rising to 2.55 million jobs in April.  However, this was still 49,000 jobs below the April 2008 peak of 2.6 million jobs. Overall, according to the Household Survey, the state remains 73,900 jobs below the peak reached during July 2008. Comparing April 2012 to April 2013, we find that the state added 54,000 jobs. The next graph shows Household Survey total for employment and labor force over time: 

The unemployment rate hit a four-year low during April, however, dropping to 6.8 percent (not seasonally adjusted):
This decline reflects the job gains made in the Household Survey, but the decline is also helped along by the fact that the labor force in Colorado is not growing very much. In April 2013, the labor force size did reach a new high, coming in at  2.74 million jobs. This was the highest point reached in any April, with the state adding 26,000 people to the labor force from April 2012 to April 2013.  However, the labor force in April was up only 8,500 jobs from the April 2009 peak level for the labor force. This is really a tiny number compared to what is usually added to the Colorado economy during recent expansion periods, and is being held down by worker reluctance to enter the work force in a lackluster employment market. 

The last graph shows monthly labor force totals.  Compare recent growth from year to year for April totals compared to the growth seen from 2003 to 2007.