Colorado jobless rate falls to 7.6% in Sept., household survey says

Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped in September to a level not seen in more than two years, according to a survey of households released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Colorado registered a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in September, down from 8.4 percent during the same month a year ago. The jobless rate was 8.3 percent in August. The last time the rate was below 8 percent was in January 2009, when it was 7.4 percent.

The non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in metro Denver also dropped in September, falling to 7.8 percent from 8.6 percent a year ago.

That was in line with the national trend as the bureau said Wednesday that the unemployment rate fell in 249 of 372 metro areas in September.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in September, down from 9.2 percent a year ago and 9.1 percent in August.

The labor force and employment activity at the state and local levels grew in September versus a year ago, according to the household survey.

“The (unemployment rate) decline was coming through an increase in employment activity, as opposed to any reduction in the size of the labor force, so that was very good news,” said Patricia Silverstein, an economist with Development Research Partners in Littleton.

She attributed the growth to improvements in manufacturing, health services and education sectors.

“We don’t want to get overly excited about this because one month does not make a trend,” Silverstein said.

Indeed, a separate survey of businesses conducted by the BLS found that Colorado lost 3,900 jobs between August and September.

That survey estimates the number of jobs in the economy regardless of how many people hold them, while the household survey tries to determine how many people are employed, said Colorado chief labor economist Alexandra Hall.

“Somebody may have three part-time jobs, and in the total employment survey they’re going to count as only one person who was employed, but in the survey of business establishments, we would find all of those jobs and count them separately,” Hall said.

She said the business survey “is about seven times the size of the household survey, so it’s generally considered to be a better indicator of what is going on with the economy.”

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