Colo. unemployment drops during April

Colorado’s employment picture is looking a little rosier.

Employers added 2,200 new jobs in April, offsetting cuts in government workers.

The employment rate dropped four-tenths of a percent to 8.8 percent based on household survey results from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The number of total employment was greater than the increase in labor force, meaning that the number of people with out jobs declined by 9,000.

The national unemployment rate increased from 8.8 percent to 9 percent for the same period.

“This is encouraging news,” said Ellen Golombek, executive director of the department. “We would like to see these trends continue for several months before reading too much into the numbers.”

Over the year, the average workweek for all employees increased from 33.8 to 34.2 hours and average hourly earnings remained unchanged at $23.87.

The largest over-the-month private sector job gains in April were in trade, transportation and utilities, other services, and leisure and hospitality. The largest decline was in construction.

The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institutes says high unemployment is likely to be a fixture in the state economy for some time. It forecasts the statewide rate at 8.8 percent for 2011, 8.5 percent for 2012 and 7.7 percent for 2013.

The institute says that while the state is making a modest recovery, there is still a substantial shortfall in available jobs. It defines shortfall as the difference between actual employment and what employment might have been if job growth had continued.

“Tracking from the onset of the recession in December 2007, Colorado’s job shortfall stands at roughly as quarter-million jobs,” the report said.

“The employment and unemployment data for April show signs the recovery is taking hold in Colorado,” said Valeria Caso, policy analyst for the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute. “While high, Colorado’s unemployment rate had a statistically significant decline from the previous month and once again fell below the national rate.”