Springs-area employers add jobs; unemployment rate drops

RICH LADEN ,THE GAZETTE

Last month was the best time in years to look for work.

Colorado Springs-area employers added jobs in November at the fastest clip in nearly two years. Meanwhile, last month s unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since the months before Sept. 11, 2001, the state Department of Labor and Employment reported Friday.

The job picture was buoyed, in part, by retailers expanding their payrolls ahead of the holiday shopping season, said Fred Crowley, an economist at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

But the numbers also demonstrate the Springs isn t headed into a recession as some economists have suggested

and that the economy will continue to grow, Crowley said.

We re not expecting a recession, he said. Some of the numbers are inflated because of seasonality. But overall, they re reflective of a healthy economy.

November s job growth of 2.35 percent in the Colorado Springs area was the highest since an identical figure in December 2004, according to the Labor and Employment Department. Job growth was 1.8 percent in October.

By comparison, monthly job growth figures in early 2001 were slightly above 4 percent.

Among the industries adding jobs in November: retailers and general merchandisers, service providers, food and beverage companies, professional and business services firms and local government.

Industries that lost jobs last month when compared with October include semiconductor makers, financial and insurance companies and the federal government.

The area s November unemployment rate of 4.3 percent was down from 4.5 percent in October and was the lowest since 4.1 percent in July 2001.

Statewide, payrolls grew by 4.8 percent in November when compared with the same month a year earlier. Colorado s unemployment rate last month was 4.1 percent, down from 4.4 percent in October.