Colorado employers ramped up hiring in August, even as concerns mounted that rising interest rates could push the U.S. economy into a recession.
Employers in the state added an estimated 12,400 nonfarm jobs between July and August, with gains of 14,500 jobs in the private sector offsetting a loss of 2,100 jobs in the public sector, according to a monthly update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
That represented a strong acceleration in hiring from July, when a revised 1,900 jobs, rather than the 2,200 jobs initially estimated, were added from June. Broomfield economist Gary Horvath said after hiring slowed in July, he was worried about what the August report would show.
“I did a double take when I saw that Colorado added 12,400 jobs in August. It is difficult to believe the state added that many jobs, given the tight job market, elevated inflation, rising interest rates and other headwinds,” Horvath said in an email.
Gains were strong across almost every sector except finance, natural resources and government. Educational and health services added 3,600 jobs month-over-month; leisure and hospitality added 3,200; professional and business services added 2,900; trade, transportation and utilities added 2,100 jobs, with retail alone adding 1,300 of those. Manufacturers added 2,100 jobs and the construction sector added 1,300 jobs.
Ryan Gedney, principal labor economist at the CDLE, said the state has experienced alternating hot and cold months when it comes to hiring since 2020 for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.
“We have seen this see-saw movement in job numbers since 2020. Every other month is a large gain followed by weak job growth. I’m not sure why July was so weak and August so strong,” he said on a press call Friday morning. On average, the state has gained a robust 9,000 jobs a month during the pandemic recovery.
Colorado lost 374,500 in March and April 2020. Over the past 28 months, the state has regained 429,900 jobs for a job recovery rate of 115% compared to a recovery rate of 101.1% nationally, Gedney said.
Not all of those added job seekers who joined the labor force in August found jobs right away. That helped push the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate to 3.4% in August from 3.3% in July, according to a separate household survey. There were 112,000 people actively looking for work in the state last month, and Colorado’s unemployment rate remains below the U.S. rate of 3.7%.
Gedney said the uptick in the state unemployment rate, which broke a 13-month streak of flat or falling rates, was not concerning. Employers are still actively hiring and more people are confident enough to rejoin the workforce.
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