Colorado lost 6,100 jobs in May 2011 compared to May of last year, but the non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate fell year-over-year from 8.6 percent to 8.5 percent. According to the most recent employment data released by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, total employment in May, not seasonally adjusted, fell to 2.441 million jobs. There were 12,000 fewer people in the work force during May, compared to May 2010, which contributed to the decline in the unemployment rate.
From May 2010 to May 2011, total employment fell 0.25 percennt, while the labor force shrank 0.46 percent. The total labor force in May included 2.668 million workers.
As can be seen in the second graph, total employment and total workforce size have decreased month-over-month, and both remain down in year-over-year comparisons. Both remain well below the July 2008 peak.
The employment total is 191,000 jobs below the peak levels experienced during July 2008 when there were 2.63 million employed workers. Since the labor force peaked in July 2008, it has fallen by more than 99,000 workers.
In the third graph is shown the year-over-year comparisons, by percent, for total employment. Not since August 2008 has Colorado posted a positive change in total employment when compared to a year earlier. Although overall total employment has increased since January 2010, employment totals remain negative in each year-over-year comparison. The annual declines, however, have generally grown smaller in recent months. The last three months (March, April and May 2011) have shown the smallest year-over-year drops in employment since since September 2008 when total employment fell 0.3 percent from the previous September.
The graph also shows the year-over-change in total employment. Total labor force size has fallen more than employment in the last three months, which helps to explain the drop in the unemployment rate. Although the state has not actually added jobs in the YOY comparisons, the number of people actually looking for work has declined, pushing the unemployment rate down.
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.