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Colorado jobs: A May snapshot

Author: Mark Harden - June 15, 2018 - Updated: June 15, 2018

In this Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, job applications and information for the Gap Factory Store sit on a table during a job fair at Dolphin Mall in Miami. On Thursday, July 7, 2016, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits the week before. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment came out Friday with its latest monthly jobs report, covering May. Here are the key takeaways for the state’s workers:

  • Unemployment rate: 2.8 percent, down a tenth of a point the previous month and up two-tenths of a point from a year earlier. About 2,900 fewer people were unemployed than the month before.
  • Employment: Up 11,200 from the previous month, to 2,979,200 (including farm workers and the self employed).
  • Payroll jobs: Up 7,700 from the previous month, to 2,723,400 (NOT including farm workers or the self employed).
  • Private-sector payroll jobs: Up 8,400 from the previous month.
  • Government payroll jobs: Down 700 from the previous month.
  • Labor force participation: Up 8,200 from the previous month, to 3,064,200.
  • Average workweek for payroll jobs: 34.1 hours, up from 33.8 hours a year earlier.
  • Average hourly pay for payroll jobs: $28.40, up from $27.16 a year earlier.
  • The national unemployment rate for the month: 3.8 percent.

Explainer: These numbers come from two different government job surveys that don’t always agree: A survey of employers (payroll jobs only) that doesn’t include self-employed people and farm workers, and a survey of households (payroll and non-payroll employment, unemployment, labor force participation) that does include those categories. In the latter survey, people with multiple jobs are counted only once.

“Unemployment” (as the government defines it) means people who don’t have a job and have applied for one in the last four weeks. “Unemployment” figures do not include out-of-work people who haven’t sought a job recently, or “discouraged” workers who say they want a job but haven’t applied because they don’t think one is available for them, or people working part-time who say they can’t find a full-time job, or people who aren’t seeking a job because they’re retired, or sick or disabled, or in school, or at home caring for their family.

“Labor force participation” means people with jobs plus unemployed people actively looking for a job.

“Payroll jobs” means working for an employer except for farm workers. It does not include the self employed or certain home domestic workers.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.