Colorado Springs unemployment rate declines in March to 9-month low

Original story at http://gazette.com/colorado-springs-unemployment-rate-declines-in-march-to-9-month-low/article/1625636

By: Wayne Heilman May 8, 2018

FILE – This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

More jobs were created than people entering the labor force in the Colorado Springs area in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The area’s 3.2 percent unemployment rate was down from 3.5 percent in February, where it had remained six months, and was the lowest monthly rate since 3.2 percent in June.

The local rate reached a 16-year low of 2.9 percent in March 2017.

The rate fell again because more than 2,600 people found jobs in March, including more than 1,700 who entered the job market and more than 900 who had been looking for work.

“It is good news that our unemployment rate has bottomed out and people are getting into the workforce. A big driver of that is the millennial generation entering the job market for the first time,” said Tom Binnings, senior partner of Summit Economics LLC, a local economic research and consulting firm. “Without an outside shock, this should continue. We are seeing real momentum in the economy.”

The federal labor statistics agency revised unemployment data for recent years, incorporating new population estimates from the Census Bureau.

For example, it initially reported the unemployment rate for April 2017 at 2.5 percent, the lowest since 1970, but that was revised to 3 percent.

Job growth slowed last year as employers struggled to find qualified candidates, even as the labor force continued to swell, said Tatiana Bailey, director of the Economic Forum at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The unemployment rate is based on a survey of households. Other data based on employer surveys also reflected a strong local job market in March, with employers adding 7,000 jobs in the previous 12 months, a 2.5 percent growth rate.

More than a third of those jobs were in the leisure and hospitality sector, led by restaurants and bars, but the professional and business services, government and trade, transportation and utilities sectors each added at least 1,100 jobs in the 12 months that ended in March. The information sector, which includes information technology, shed 100 jobs in that period, the only major sector with job losses.

Unemployment rates fell in all seven Colorado metropolitan areas, with Fort Collins lowest at 2.3 percent and Pueblo highest at 4.2 percent. Colorado’s jobless rate remained unchanged at 3 percent in March for a seventh consecutive month.