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Colorado unemployment rate spikes are due to seasonal employment

After a steady march downward, Weld County’s unemployment rate began to creep up in January, while Colorado’s rate remained flat.

Colorado’s unemployment, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, stayed at 4.2 percent from December to January while the Weld rate, which is unadjusted for seasonal fluctuations, rose to 4.2 percent in January from 3.9 percent in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rise is a typical function of the seasons, explained Alexandra Hall, chief economist for the state Labor Department. December numbers usually swell with holiday hiring.

“Every year from December to January the drop is about 60,000,” Hall said.

If the state rate as not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, the state unemployment rate would have risen to 4.7 percent in January from 4.0 percent in December.

Employers added 3,700 nonfarm payroll jobs in Colorado in January, private sector payroll jobs increased by 6,400 while government jobs decreased by 2,700.

Bill Thoennes, spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Employment, said the adjusted rate stayed the same due to two factors that canceled each other out.

“The number of people entering the labor force balances itself with the number of people who were unsuccessfully looking for work,” Thoennes said. “Because of that there was no change in the (adjusted) unemployment rate.”

In related news, Colorado jobs OK during O&G budget cuts

Thoennes said the labor market is very volatile when comparing the numbers month to month because people are constantly moving in and out of the labor force.

The rise in the labor force could be due to people moving into the state, a crop of recent college graduates, people returning to work after time off or many other reasons.

The total number of people actively participating in the Colorado labor force increased 3,500 to 2,827,700 and the total employment increased 4,900 to 2,709,500 causing the number of unemployed to decline 1,400, the news release said.

Since January 2014, the unemployment rate is down from 5.8 percent.

Over the year, nonfarm payroll jobs increased 71,100. The private sector gained 70,500 jobs and government jobs increased 600. The release said the largest private sector job gains were in education and health services, leisure and hospitality and construction.

Hall said the Greeley metropolitan statistical area, which also is all of Weld County, had seen about a 9 percent increase over the year, nearly triple the state’s annual growth of 3.3 percent.

“It’s been growing so fast, the payroll job survey has had a hard time keeping up,” Hall said.

They don’t know yet if the drop in oil and gas production has had an effect on the area’s employment.

“It’s going to take more time for us to be able to figure out how much the payroll jobs are being affected by the change in oil prices,” she said. “Right now, we don’t have enough information to tell by how much these payroll jobs might be impacted with the low oil prices.”

Colorado and Weld unemployment rates still remain lower than the national unemployment rate, which rose a tenth of a percentage point to 5.7 percent from December to January.

“Colorado has seen payroll jobs increase 38 of the past 39 months,” Hall said.


This article was written by Bridgett Weaver from Greeley Tribune, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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