El Paso County is considered a large county by BLS standards.
Large counties are defined as those with employment of 75,000 or more as measured by 2012 annual average employment. Regional Commissioner Stanley W. Suchman noted that eight large Colorado counties reported employment growth exceeding the national average of 1.8 percent, and one county matched the U.S. average.
Weld County led employment growth in the state with a 6 percent gain and ranked first among the 334 large counties in the nation, followed by Douglas (5.2 percent, third) and Adams (4.6 percent, 11th). Also ranking in the top 100 counties nationwide were Denver (4 percent, 29th), Boulder (3 percent, 61st), Larimer (2.9 percent, 72nd), and Arapahoe (2.8 percent, 76th).
Nationally, employment rose in 292 of the 334 largest U.S. counties from December 2012 to December 2013. Weld County posted the largest percentage increase, up 6 percent over the year, led by a gain of 1,864 jobs in construction.
Among the nine largest counties in Colorado, employment was highest in Denver County (451,200) in December 2013. Three other counties—Arapahoe, El Paso, and Jefferson—had employment levels exceeding 200,000. Together, the nine large counties accounted for 79.6 percent of total employment within the state. Nationwide, the 334 largest counties made up 71.7 percent of total U.S. Employment.
El Paso County had 246,363 persons employed in December 2013.
Average weekly wages rose in six of the nine large counties in Colorado from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013.
The average weekly wage for El Paso County was $887 in the last quarter of 2013. That figure compares with $1,023 statewide. Colorado ranked 43rd nationally for weekly wages.
Weld had the largest over-the-year increase in weekly wages with a gain of 4.8 percent, though it registered the lowest wage level among the nine counties at $871. Wages in five of the large counties exceeded the national average of $1,000 with the highest level among Colorado’s large counties recorded in Denver at $1,224.
Six of Colorado’s nine large counties recorded wage growth from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013, while the U.S. average weekly wage was unchanged.
Weld had the largest wage increase (4.8 percent), placing eighth in the national ranking, followed by Boulder (3.7 percent, 13th). Also placing in the top 100 of the ranking were Adams (2.3 percent, 36th) and Larimer (1.4 percent, 75th).
Of the remaining large counties in Colorado, Denver registered wage growth of 1.0 percent and placed 106th in the national ranking followed by El Paso (0.2 percent, 165th).
In contrast, three large counties experienced decreases in average weekly wages. Douglas had the largest percentage decrease in average weekly wages, with a loss of 29.7 percent over the year placing it last (334th) in the national ranking. Average weekly wages also decreased in Arapahoe (-0.9 percent, 250th) and Jefferson (-0.2 percent, 205th).
Among the 334 largest counties, 185 had over-the-year increases in average weekly wages. Santa Cruz, Calif., had the largest wage increase among the largest U.S. counties (6.5 percent). Average weekly wages decreased in 140 of the largest counties. As mentioned, Douglas, Colo., registered the largest average weekly wage decline with a loss of 29.7 percent.
Five of the state’s large counties had average weekly wages that were above the national average of $1,000, placing them in the top 100 among the 334 largest counties in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2013. Denver recorded the highest weekly wage at $1,224 and ranked 29th followed by the counties of Boulder ($1,174, 42nd), Arapahoe ($1,145, 50th), Douglas ($1,123, 52nd), and Jefferson ($1,005, 95th). The average weekly wages in Colorado’s four other large counties ranged from $871 to $946.
Nationally, weekly wages were higher than average in 98 of the 334 largest U.S. counties. San Mateo, Calif., held the top position among the highest-paid large counties with an average weekly wage of $2,724. New York, N.Y., was second at $2,041, followed by Santa Clara, Calif. ($1,972). Among the 235 large counties with average weekly wages below the U.S. average in the fourth quarter of 2013, Horry, S.C. ($587) reported the lowest wage.
When all 64 counties in Colorado were considered, seven had average wages above $1,000. Six of these high-wage counties were concentrated in the Denver-Boulder area.