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CDLE economist: Job outlook remains strong despite unemployment uptick

DENVER — While Colorado’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly last month for the first time in more than a year, it’s not time to hit the panic button, experts say.

In fact, the minor increase — a 3.4% seasonally adjusted rate in August up from 3.3% in July — might even be another indicator of a strong job market. 

That’s because the number of employed people increased last month, just not as much as the overall pool of employable Coloradans, new data from Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. It can take some time for these new workers to be absorbed.

“I’m not concerned at all about the uptick in the unemployment rate,” senior CLDE economist Ryan Gedney said Friday. “The unemployment rate went up for good reasons: We’re seeing gains in both the labor force and in employment.”

Even with the increase, “a 3.4% rate is incredibly low on a historical basis,” he said. “We continue to see strong employment growth from a household standpoint. … These are really positive takeaways. I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue to see the unemployment rate tick upwards.” 

In the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado, Boulder County led the way in August with a 2.6% non-seasonally adjusted jobless figure, followed by Broomfield and Larimer counties at 2.8% and Weld County at 3.6%.

“Over the year, the average workweek for all Colorado employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased from 34.4 to 33.2 hours, while average hourly earnings grew from $32.12 to $34.17, one dollar and eighty-one cents more than the national average hourly earnings of $32.36,” CDLE data shows.