Boulder County unemployment rate down again

By the numbers: Colorado metro area April 2018 unemployment rates

Fort Collins: 2.2 percent

Boulder: 2.3 percent

Greeley: 2.4 percent

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood: 2.5 percent

Colorado Springs: 3.1 percent

Grand Junction: 3.3 percent

Pueblo: 3.9 percent

Boulder County‘s already low unemployment rate dipped slightly, from 2.5 percent to 2.3 percent, between March and April, according to new data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The April jobless rate for the Boulder metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Boulder County, was the second lowest in the state for the month. The Fort Collins metro area reported a slightly lower rate of 2.2 percent.

Since January, the unemployment rate in the Boulder area has dropped from 2.9 percent, labor department data shows.

The statewide jobless rate in April was 2.9 percent — down from 3 percent in March — compared to a national rate of 3.9 percent. Colorado and Idaho tied for the ninth-lowest unemployment rate in the United States.

“Colorado‘s unemployment rate has been very steady over the past 18 months,” said Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Senior Economist Ryan Gedney.

Data shows the number of people actively participating in Colorado‘s labor force increased by 6,800 over the month, to 3,056,100. Locally, the Boulder metro area saw about 300 new people enter the nearly 188,000-employee workforce between March and April.

Not only is the economy adding jobs, Gedney said, but those jobs are paying more. Over the year, average hourly earnings for private, non-farm jobs have increased from $27.73 to $28.91.

“We‘ve been hoping to see this kind of growth,” he said.

The strong economy in the state is further evidenced by the fact that a significant portion of the people classified as unemployed — those who lose their jobs, people entering the job market for the first time, retirees who decide to go back to work and workers who voluntarily leave their job — are out of work because they‘re simply looking for a better job or higher salary.

About one in five Colorado workers who are unemployed “are those who we would consider job leavers,” Gedney said. “During the Great Recession, that figure dipped below 10 percent.”

Low unemployment creates a tight labor market that can make it tough for employers to find workers to fill jobs. But that doesn‘t appear to be happening on a wide scale in Colorado, Gedney said.

“We‘re continuing to see strong job growth,” he said. “It‘s higher than I would have expected.”

But there are some potential challenges to keep an eye on over the next few months, Gedney said.

“As housing prices and the cost of living in the Front Range area continue to rise, does that discourage individuals from moving to Colorado?” he said. “That‘s something I‘m still looking out for.”