Wages, employment up in Colorado counties

Employment rose in all nine large counties in Colorado for the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

El Paso County’s employment growth was an anemic .5 percent, far below the national average and lower than Arapahoe, Boulder and Denver Counties. It was ranked 173rd in the nation. The average weekly wage in El Paso County is $891, an increase of 3.1 percent.

Five of the counties exceeded the national average of .9 percent, said Regional Commissioner Stanley Suchman. Weld County led the state with a 2.9 percent gain and ranked 11th among the 326 large counties in the nation. Denver, Larimer and Boulder all ranked within the top 100 counties nationwide for employment growth, while Arapahoe County’s employment growth of 1.1 percent was above average, ranking it 116th in the nation.

In Colorado, Denver County had the highest employment rate, with 426,500 people. Three other counties, including El Paso County, had employment levels exceeding 200,000. The large nine counties in Colorado make up 70.9 percent of total U.S. employment.

Wages were up in Jefferson County by 6.4 percent, the fastest increase in the state, and well above the national average of 3 percent. Wled County had a 6.2 percent rate of wage growth.

Denver and Boulder counties also saw high wage growth. El Paso County had a wage increase slightly above national average at 3.1 percent, and shared a ranking of 118th in the nation. Douglas County’s average weekly wage declined 1.2 percent over the year.

When ranked with other state’s Colorado is number 11 for employment, behind Washington, D.C., Connecticut, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New Jersey (which shared the ranking with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), California, Maryland, Idaho, Virginia and Delaware.